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Government, Politics & Issues

Ill. House committee approves pension changes

Full IL capitol.jpg
(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)
Ill. lawmakers have less than a month to pass a state budget "on time."

Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

An Illinois state House committee has approved sweeping changes to public employee pensions.

It's one of Gov. Pat Quinn's priorities for the legislative session that ends on Thursday.

Current and retired state and university employees, and public school teachers would face a difficult choice; keep their health care in retirement and have future pay raises count toward their pensions, but a smaller cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), or keep the current 3 percent compounding COLA but lose health care.

The proposal would also shift some of the costs of public pensions onto school districts and universities.

Opponents argue that provision would lead to property tax increases and tuition hikes, but House Speaker Michael Madigan says the state shouldn't have to pick up the tab for a group of workers whose salaries it cannot control.

"There's a concept in America that we all strive to live under, which is called responsibility," Madigan said. "Responsibility for our actions. And when one person can spend money and send the bill to somebody else, that's not responsible, that's not responsibility. That's un-American."

The measure heads to the House floor - and it appears the legislation is on a fast track to Gov. Quinn's desk.

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