A plan to cut government pensions and shift some retirement costs to schools has cleared its first hurdle in the Illinois Legislature. The measure would reduce annual cost-of-living increases for public employees, such as state workers, university staff and downstate teachers. It also gradually makes schools and universities pay the cost of retirement benefits for their employees, as Chicago schools already do. Opponents argue schools would be stuck with a huge expense at a time when money is already tight. But House Speaker Michael Madigan said the shift would make schools come up with the money they promise to their employees. He says that's the American way. A House pension committee approved the bill 6-3 today.
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