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IL Dems' new budget plan skips pension payments

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By IL Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – Democrats who control the Illinois House and Senate have a plan to fund state government next fiscal year.

It includes the state skipping its payment government pension systems to balance the budget.

Senate President Emil Jones says it's the only option left because no one is willing to expand gambling or make other changes to the pension system. "Thus far, all the meetings we've had remind me of a dog chasing his tail, going around and around in circles," Jones said Thursday. "Now it's time to act and we intend to act."

The move would NOT affect benefits for retired teachers, university and government workers, and judges in Illinois.

But it would increase the retirement systems' debt, which is already the largest in the country at $35 billion.

Tom Cross, the top Republican in the Illinois House, opposes the plan, which is being called a "pension holiday."

"'Pension scheme,' 'pension scam,' 'taking money out of the retirment system that we can't afford to do.' All of those are better ways to describe it."

But Republicans don't have much say in the process, as Democrats control both the state House and Senate, and governor's mansion.

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