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Ill. Senate Passes Pension Overhaul For Some Teachers

(Flickr/ Jason Dunnivant
The Illinois Senate approved sweeping changes to education last night.

The Illinois Senate has passed a pension overhaul, but it only affects suburban and downstate teachers. It doesn't touch state employees' and university workers' retirement benefits.

The measure was approved by the Illinois Senate and forces teachers to choose between taking a reduced pension, or retaining access to state-backed health care upon retirement.

It took two tries, passing only after Democratic Senator Dave Koehler of Peoria switched his vote.

Koehler says he initially voted "no" because it didn't appear there were enough votes for it to pass. When it became clear he could put it over the edge, he kept a promise and voted "yes."

"We have to understand that there are no good or easy decisions to make in any of the pension bills that are going to come before us," Koehler said.

Teachers complain that their singled out. Other critics - including Republicans - say the plan doesn't save enough money when the state's pension funds are nearly $100 billion in debt. But a more comprehensive, different plan failed to get enough votes to pass the Senate.

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