Illinois voters are getting at least somewhat of a say in the state's mess over public pensions. A constitutional amendment on the ballot today would require a three-fifths majority vote of lawmakers in Springfield before retirement benefits for public employees are enhanced. The state's five pension systems are underfunded by $85 billion. Critics say requiring an extraordinary majority vote on future increases would be meaningless. Pension "sweeteners" are typically approved by overwhelming majorities and account for only 9 percent of the growth in the pension deficit in the past 15 years. The change also would apply to local governments such as city councils and school boards. The amendment could be approved with "yes" votes from three-fifths of those voting on it or by a majority of everyone voting today overall.
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