House Speaker Michael Madgian introduced a 227-page revision to pension bill SB 1 passed a House committee vote today. The original bill passed the Senate and was backed by Senate President John Cullerton.
Madigan's new draft legislation, House Amendment 1, addresses four out of the five state pension systems, not including judges. It would change cost-of-living-adjustments, or COLAs, by giving retirees 3 percent of an amount based on each year they worked. The cap of future COLA increases would amount to $1,000 every year they worked. For example, if a retiree worked 30 years, the amount would be $30,000; their COLA would be 3 percent of that amount, or $900, and would accumulate each year. Madigan's bill would not call on pensioners to choose between COLA adjustments and health care benefits.
The House leader's amendment would not require suburban and downstate schools districts to pay for the state's portion of its workers' pensions, but does cap pensionable salary amounts at $109,000. The bill also raises the retirement age in a scaled manner and includes a guarantee that the state will make its required payments to the pension system.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability, and the proposal is expected to shave off $30 billion from the debt and fully fund the four systems by 2045, according to Madigan's camp.
The Speaker's amendment passed in a House commitee this morning by a 9-1 vote and is expected to be voted on by the full chamber Thursday.
The We Are One Coalition of labor unions and their advocates released a statement in response to Madigan's revisions yesterday and blasted the amendment:
Our coalition has said time and again that we oppose unfair, unconstitutional pension cuts. Public workers and retirees should not be punished for a problem politicians created,
While we want to work together to solve the pension problem, the amendment filed today by the House speaker represents the same illegal approach to slashing hard-earned life savings protected by the Illinois Constitution. Should it become law, we believe a successful legal challenge is all but certain, with the bill saving nothing and the state’s budget problems made worse.
Read more about the group's opposition to the latest proposal here.