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Pension Conference Committee Looking For New Ideas
Pension Conference Committee Looking For New Ideas

The conference committee that’s supposed to break the stalemate on public pension reform is looking for new ideas, but not finding any. At the committee’s first meeting today (Thursday) in Chicago, State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) asked witnesses for help. “If you have something new in the context of trying to find that elusive compromise, that is the point of your being here today, is to provide that,” he said.

But the same witnesses that lawmakers have heard from for 2½ years on this issue turned up to dig in their heels on their same positions. Business interests, including the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, urged lawmakers to recommend only the more aggressive S.B. 1, or something with even more cost savings.

Labor didn’t budge either. The Police Benevolent Association says workers already compromised when they agreed to S.B. 2404, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers noted that S.B. 2404 is designed to reduce cost-of-living adjustments.

The chairman, State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), said he wants to make sure that the committee doesn’t simply recommend the plan with the greatest savings for the state, at the expense of benefits to government workers and retirees. “Should it be part of this conference committee’s consideration as to what is moral?” he said.

The committee also heard from the state actuary.

There were no new proposals for resolving the impasse. Lawmakers are hung up on S.B. 1, supported by the House speaker, which would probably produce greater savings, vs. S.B. 2404, from which the savings might be less, but which the Senate president believes is more likely constitutional.