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 Monday, March 10, the 69th day of 2014. There are 296 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Numerous counterfeiters are around, taking advantage of the influx of currency to pass their worthless trash. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.J. Reimers, secretary and treasurer of the Rock Island Lumber and Manufacturing Co., on behalf of that firm, contributed $500 toward construction of a new Methodist church. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Samuel Ryerson, county recorder, was re-elected president of the 19th District of Knights of Pythias. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Three condemnation suits have been filed by the city of Rock Island to acquire property needed for an approach to the Rock Island-Davenport bridge, which has been under construction since March 6. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Plans for an eight-story Sheraton Inn in downtown Rock Island were announced today at a luncheon meeting at the Gay Nineties sponsored by the Rock Island Chamber of Commerce. Cost of the structure is estimated at $2.5 million. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Representatives of the Hardee's Golf Classic and tournament sponsor Hardee's Food Systems may meet next week with PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman to discuss a possible change in the tournament dates.