After last week's vote to make major cuts in state spending on health care for the poor, Illinois lawmakers are turning to the rest of the budget. They're also still looking at making major changes to state employee retirement plans. After taking Sunday off, both the House and Senate are back in Springfield today. They still have yet to agree on how much to spend on everything from schools to prisons. But the most difficult task might be changing the pension plan for public school teachers and state and university employees. Leaders have been meeting behind closed doors. While the details of the plan have yet to appear in legislation, House Speaker Michael Madigan gave a few hints late last week in an interview with Illinois Channel. He says the plan would shift more of the pension cost away from state government:
"We do feel that local school districts and community colleges and universities ought to assume the responsibility to make the pension payments for their employees."
Republicans have opposed that idea, saying it will lead to local tax increases and tuition hikes. Madigan also told Illinois Channel they're no longer considering raising the retirement age. But employees are likely to see a change in the automatic cost of living adjustment that bumps pensions by three percent a year. Just four days remain until lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the summer.
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