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 Sunday, April 20, the 110th day of 2014. There are 255 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The attention of contractors is called to proposals for building a magazine. The building is to be erected on the south side of the island, above the railroad, nearly opposite Sinnit's ice houses. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Ladies patent leather tip shoes were selling for $3 at the M & K store, and men's spring overcoats were advertised at $7.50. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Fred Feuchter, of Davenport, was elected president of the Tri-City Post Office Clerks club, and Joe Goldsmith, of Rock Island, was named secretary treasurer. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Mass vaccination of more than 1,600 employed of the Rock Island Arsenal has been ordered by Col. Norman Ramsey after a 13-year-old daughter of the Arsenal manager became ill with smallpox. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The 1964 Scout-O-Rama of the Sac-Fox Council of Boy Scouts closed a two-day session last evening at the Rock Island Armory with 5,000 paid attendance. 1989 -- 25 years ago: "From the horse and buggy days ... to this" said Mercer County Sheriff Marvin Thirtyacre, waving his hand to indicate the sheriff's department facilities at the new $1.5 million Mercer County Jail in Aledo.