Bills to Cut Pensions Blocked

The General Assembly went home without final passage of any bills to cut the pensions of state workers, teachers, and university employees and retirees. But one bill, HB 1447, that targeted the pensions of state employees and retirees, did pass the Senate.

It was a legislative free-for-all in the final days of the General Assembly’s spring session as legislative leaders in both houses–working with the governor’s office–churned out one piece of pension legislation after another. The core of these measures was a plan to drastically reduce the annual cost-of-living adjustment for both active and retired employees, as well as shifting the employer’s share of teacher pension costs from the State of Illinois to local school districts.

SB 1673, the House version of the bill, ran into trouble when Republicans objected to the cost-shift to local school districts. Without Republican votes, the bill stalled. In an effort to re-start it, Gov. Pat Quinn requested that the cost-shift to school districts be removed. But that caused problems in the Democratic caucus where there was considerable rancor over the fact that Chicago is the only school district in the state that currently pays the employer’s pension contribution. When the cost-shifting provision came out, Democrats’ votes jumped off the bill too. House Speaker Madigan turned sponsorship over to Minority Leader Cross, who soon had to admit that the votes were not there to pass the bill in that form.

Unfortunately, there were no such political dust-ups in the Senate to knock HB 1447 off course. HB 1447 contained the same COLA cutbacks as the original version of SB 1673, though only for the State Employees and General Assembly systems. Senate President John Cullerton pushed hard for action on the bill, which he believes represents the “framework” for legislation that will eventually be enacted. The final vote was 30-24, with 1 Present and 4 Not Voting.

See the roll call sheet below to see how your senator voted. It is extremely important to call TODAY to thank your senator if he or she voted NO on HB 1447. If your senator voted YES for this bad bill, be sure to call him or her to register your objections to that vote. We need to send a loud message as there continues to be talk of a Special Session to address pensions this summer –

Dial 888-912-5959 enter your zip code and get connected to your legislator toll free.