SPRINGFIELD - Although unions were adamantly opposed, House Pension Committee passed proposed pension reform with a 6 to 3 vote Monday. SB 1673 goes to the House floor for a vote before Wednesday's swearing in of the new General Assembly. If it passes the House, the reform will need to be approved by the IL Senate before the end of this week's lame duck session.
One after another Monday afternoon, Illinois employee unions reps testified against State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and State Rep. Daniel Biss' (D-Chicago) proposal. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn-Currie (D-Chicago) is listed as a co-sponsor.
The pension reform proposal is "Wrong, unfair and unconstitutional," Cinda Klickna, Illinois Education Association's rep, said. She testified about the state's largest teacher union's resistance to freezing COLA payments and other pension system recommendations in SB 1673, saying "We don't have a benefits problem, we have a revenue problem."
State police, corrections officers, nurses as well as other state employee representatives reviewed sacrifices they had made over the years with their occupation choices and their contributions to their pension accounts. Many are not qualified for Social Security, and if their pensions were frozen, they would possibly be forced to other government programs.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross joined in support Reps Nekritz and Biss' proposal, saying it was urgent that something was done to turn around the current pension crisis.
Illinois Policy Institute urges a more wholistic reform that gets the state out of the pension business, redirecting away from the current defined pension system.