Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 27, 2013

What's included in Illinois pension proposal

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD — After years of failed attempts and months of negotiations, the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly announced Wednesday they've agreed to a plan to address the state's $100 billion pension crisis. Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Springfield on Tuesday to vote on the proposal, which House Speaker Michael Madigan says would save the state $160 billion over 30 years.

Full details have not been released, but here's a look at what lawmakers say the legislation would do:

— Raise the retirement age on a sliding scale basis.

— Decrease the employee contribution.

— Guarantee the state will make its full annual contribution to the funds, and allow the systems to sue if the full payments aren't made.

— Change the cost-of-living increase from the current rate of 3 percent, compounded annually. Retirees would continue to receive increases at that rate up to a certain amount of annuity benefit, set at $1,000 for each year of public service. After that, the cost-of-living adjustment would be equal to the inflation rate. Madigan says the new way of calculating the increases would benefit low-income workers who worked longer.

— Redirect money from pension bond payments to the retirement systems after bonds are paid off in 2019.

— Mandate that 10 percent of the savings from cutting benefits will go toward the systems - a kind of supplemental pension payment - starting in fiscal year 2016.

— Provide workers the option of participating in a 401K-style defined contribution plan.