Pension Foreshadowing

From the Daily Herald:
Pension foreshadowing?
Posted by Mike Riopell on Fri, 03/30/2012 – 10:23

The Illinois House floor grew quiet yesterday when House Speaker Michael Madigan took the floor to talk about what seemed, at first, to be a relatively run-of-the-mill proposal.

It was from state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat. She presented legislation that would change how the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District handles its employee pension funds, which had become underfunded.

Perhaps you’ve heard somewhere that the state is having its own pension problems.

Nekritz’ legislation puts the district on a path to pension viability by 2050 by increasing how much employees and the district pay into the funds. Once they’re in good shape again, employees can stop paying their increased amount.

Why does all this dense policy stuff matter? Well, the pension debate is one of the two hottest issues in Springfield right now, as lawmakers try to figure out how to lower its crippling employee retirement costs, which are cutting into other important spending for schools, human services, etc.

And, most importantly, Madigan stood for a rare floor speech to weigh in. He praised that unions and management had come together to solve the problem amicably. And…

I think that this is how we should move forward on pensions.

That statement, unlike many of the hours of debate Thursday in the House and Senate, did not go unnoticed.