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Illinois House Approves Comprehensive Pension Reform Plan After Years Of Talks

The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Ill. (via Flickr/jglazer75)
(via Flickr/jglazer75)
The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Ill. (via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 5:39 p.m. with reporting from Brian Mackey.

The Illinois House approved a massive overhaul of state-employee pension systems on Thursday. It's a development that's been more than a year in the making.

Earlier this year, there was a pension measure that had just a single "yes" vote. That makes what happened with this latest proposal significant.

Today's measure received 62 "yes" votes, 51 "no" votes and two voting present. Having received the constitutional majority, it passed.

The measure has parts of ideas that have been floating around for a while: state employees, teachers and university workers under age 45 will have to work more years before they're eligible to retire. And the guaranteed 3 percent annual cost-of-living increases for pensioners would be scaled way back.

Labor unions are objecting, but House Republican Leader Tom Cross argues that a smaller pension is better than no pension.

"You may not like it, but it provides certainty that you will have a pension and you will know what that pension is," Cross said.

It remains to be seen whether the Senate will take up this plan. It has passed significantly different pension overhauls, and the Democratic Senate president has long held that the approach taken by the House would be thrown out by the courts.

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