The Illinois House of Representatives has approved a massive overhaul of state pensions.
It's the first time the House has passed such a plan after more than a year of negotiating and many failed attempts.
Illinois Republicans had a theme when they met in Tampa for the Republican National Convention: Fire Madigan.It’s more than a slogan for the state GOP. It’s an all-out marketing campaign against the Illinois House speaker. It includes t-shirts, buttons and even a baby bib that read “Fire Madigan.” The GOP blames Michael Madigan for allowing the state to slide into a fiscal mess. But Madigan said it’s Republicans who are unwilling to do what he called the "heavy lifting."
Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) support a proposal to shift the pension funding burden from the state to local school districts.
But State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said there are good reasons to oppose the plan.
“It's a triple whammy for the districts,” Sullivan said. He pointed out:
1) Local districts would be burdened with the responsibility for a major expense.
2) State financial support for school districts continues to decline.
Illinois lawmakers continue to wrestle with the state's soaring pension costs.
The General Assembly is set to adjourn May 31, yet at this time it's still unclear which -- if any -- of the various proposals to reduce pension costs will pass.
Unions are fighting efforts that would reduce benefits for state workers, university employees, and public school teachers.
But many lawmakers, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, say an overhaul is necessary. They point to Illinois' $83 billion unfunded pension liability that continues to grow.