Call It P-Day
Call It P-Day

The time for talking is over, says a member of the conference committee on pensions.

“If you’re a member of the Illinois General Assembly who has seen what we’ve had to do with budgets over the last three or four years, and has seen the way the pensions (have) pressured our other budget-making operations, to not be for this bill is perplexing,” says State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside), a member of the conference committee on pension reform.

Today is the day Illinois lawmakers are expected to vote on a pension restructuring bill that, among other things, calls for a higher retirement age for some workers and a 401(k)-style option. The bill’s backers tout its savings as $160 billion over 30 years.

“I’m working through the numbers. I’m undecided at this point,” said State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills). “The good part is the cost-of-living adjustment changes – that’ll help save the system – (and) the increase in the retirement age. The bad parts (to me are) … the reduction in the employee contributions, and I’m concerned the savings might be backloaded.”

Two of the people who have probably spent more time on the issue than anybody over the last two years weighed in on the subject of gubernatorial politics and the bill.

“I find it disappointing that, after years of work on this and finally getting a compromise, that – all of a sudden – it’s important to delay or to do something different,” says State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook).

“My view is the job of governor is solving problems for the state of Illinois and its people,” says State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston). “What we’ve learned is that, for some people, the job of running for governor is the opposite of that.”

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) are in favor of the bill. State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) says more time is needed. Treasurer Dan Rutherford and financier Bruce Rauner, both Republicans, urge a No vote..

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