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Some Progress in Pension Debate
House lawmakers approved one piece of a pension reform proposal at the capitol today. The unfunded liability in the five state pension systems continues to climb to nearly $100 billion.
Lawmakers voted to cap the salary a pension can be based on for current employees. That number is the same as the social security wage base, or $113,000.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimates the cap would save the state $632 million in the next budget year, and a total of $44 billion over the next 30 years.
The House voted 65-7 to approve it, but most Republicans did not vote. They're not happy with the way the Democratic House speaker is bringing the ideas to the floor without any prior discussion in committee.
"I think it's important when we don't agree with those, we weren't part of crafting those," Rep. Rich Brauer (R - Petersburg) said. "I think for this process to work correctly, both sides sit down, come up with solutions, and bring them forward."
"All of the ideas have been in committee before," Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said. "The bills have been in committees in past years. The process is about getting people to take a difficult vote to do something about stabilizing the pension systems."
Proposals to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments and require employees to contribute an additional 4 percent of their salaries to pensions starting next year both failed on the House floor.
The sponsors of a comprehensive pension reform plan that would also cap pensionable salary hope to bring it up for debate next week.
Brown said the proposal is "a step in the right direction."
Quinn directed lawmakers to act to reform the state's pension systems during his budget address yesterday.