Illinois Pension Deal Could Be on Horizon, Says Top Democrat

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said this week that he’d struck a tentative deal with state Gov. Rauner on pension legislation that would alter the way beneficiaries accrue benefits.

The bill would save the state $1 billion annually. But it was not immediately clear if the plan would hold up in court as constitutional.

Details of the deal, from WTTW:

That bill would force state workers to make a choice: Keep the yearly compounded cost of living adjustment they get in retirement but agree that future raises they get while working will not apply to their pension – or vice versa – accept a lower COLA in retirement in exchange for having all of their raises apply to their final pension formula.

Cullerton made his remarks at the City Club this afternoon – and explained that he and the governor ironed out their differences from last week, when Rauner announced an agreement, only to have Cullerton minutes later say, ‘Not so fast.’

“He called me and said he was going to have a press conference and he was supporting the concept, but we didn’t have the language worked out,” said Cullerton. “As a result, I had to clarify that I wasn’t agreeing to what I thought he was saying. So now, we’ll just calm down, sit down, draft a bill and then we’ll get an agreement.”

Cullerton says he talked to the governor this morning about the bill, and that he expected Speaker Madigan to support elements of it because he has in the past. This move is seen by some as a way to drive a wedge between Cullerton and House Speaker Madigan – Madigan’s spokesperson said he wanted to see an agreement in writing before commenting on the bill.

Cullterton’s comments suggest that Democrats’ support of the pension bill come with strings attached: Rauner needs to change the way the state funds education.


Photo by Tricia Scully via Flickr CC License

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