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 Friday, May 24, the 144th day of 2013. There are 221 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: A military escort will be at the square at 9 a.m. tomorrow forthe funeral of Lieut. Joseph Eaton. The county judge is absent in Chicago, which willaccount for his not being in the procession. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Rock Island's City Council last night appropriated $95,000 forexpenses for the 1888 and 1889 fiscal year. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Mrs. F.W. Reimers last night was re-elected president of the RockIsland Musical Club at a meeting in the New Harper Hotel. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Seven members of Boy Scout Troop 21 got their Eagle badges lastnight. They were Ralph Hurt, Robert Nelson, Howard Schersten, Cecil Nelson, RobertFryxell, Clarence Stone and Rollin Hurt. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Mayor Morris Muhleman has resorted to a form letter in an effort toanswer objections to the wheel tax increase. "It was my hope that I could, in some way,restore the faith of the citizens in our city. In order to do this I knew I must face the factthat I would become very unpopular."All they are trying to do is protect the citizensproperty and build their town. 1988 -- 25 years ago: RICCA, the Rock Island County Council on Addictions, inconjunction with the Quad City Downs, will hold its annual "Night at the Races" June 2.The benefit "Night at the Races" will raise funds locally to assist in maintaining the twohalfway houses, New Hope Lodge (for women) and Beacon House (for men).