SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The Illinois Senate rejected a comprehensive pension overhaul Wednesday, but narrowly approved a scaled-back plan targeting teachers.
The bill addressing the Teachers' Retirement System, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, was estimated to save up to $40 billion over the next three decades. It offers employees a choice on whether they want retirement health care or reduced annual cost-of-living increases, among other things.
The bill failed by one vote on a first attempt, but Cullerton quickly used a parliamentary procedure to be able to recall the matter, which he did minutes later. It was approved 30-22.
"It's not often you can push a green button and save $18-to-$40 billion dollars over the next 30 years," Cullerton told lawmakers as they headed into a second vote.
Opponents said Cullerton's plan didn't go far enough in addressing Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension problem. The state has nearly $100 billion in pension debt because for years it has either shorted or skipped payments altogether.
Lawmakers have been deadlocked in an approach to solving the problem, despite urgent pleas from Gov. Pat Quinn, who had backed Cullerton's bill. Since the spring session began in January, lawmakers have taken a number of approaches, often time with overlapping ideas.
Earlier Wednesday, senators voted down a pension overhaul sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat. His plan, which replicated part of an earlier proposal, would have required public employees to contribute 2 percent more toward retirements and push back the retirement age in increments by age group. The plan also required the state to fully fund its pensions.
Opponents called the plan unconstitutional, which Biss acknowledged. But Biss said his plan offered a good compromise on other matters.
"The best thing we can do is balance these priorities against each other," he said, later telling lawmakers that their vote wouldn't be easy.
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 10, the 344th day of 2013. There are 21 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: We give "the government" the benefit of our circulation free of charge, for two advertisements for mules, horses and forage. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The official board of the First Methodist Church voted to build a new church. 1913 -- 100 years ago: W.A. Reid was elected commander of Siboney Bay Camp No. 8, United Spanish War Veterans. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Blanche S. Osborne, of Rock Island, is the only woman in the city who is a member of the American Legion. 1963 -- 50 years ago: The Rocket Barbershop Chorus, under the direction of Howard Mesecher, will present a concert of barbershop songs at the December meeting of the Woman's Club of Moline at 2 Saturday afternoon in Scottish Rite Cathedral. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Helen A. Stone, of Moline, traded her organ's bench for a seat in the pew when she retired as church organist of Union Congregational Church, Moline, recently. She's been playing either piano or organ for the church for 61 years.