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New pension approach to be unveiled

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:23:13 CST
By: IPR's Amanda Vinicky

A new vision for dealing with the state's pension crisis will be unveiled this morning. Illinois' pension liability has swelled to more than 96 billion dollars, mostly because lawmakers in the past didn't pay the state's portion into the fund. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports:

It's unclear if this new plan will be the one with enough momentum to overcome a legislative stalemate. Or if it'll be added to the heap of previous proposals to overhaul Illinois' pensions, something the governor, bond ratings agencies, and financial watchdogs have long been demanding.     Authors of the proposal are trying to keep mum about details. But one legislator involved with it says it grew out of rank-and-file lawmakers' frustration with a lack of movement on the pension problem. According to a fact sheet obtained by public radio, this version has key differences from those considered by the General Assembly in the past.   Previous attempts called for all state employees to work longer before they could claim retirement benefits, this version implements that on a rolling basis. Employees closest to retirement would keep the current age minimums; the youngest workers would have to work five years longer. The new proposal would allow for cost-of-living adjustments on pensions, but they'd be reduced. It calls for schools and universities to take on retirement costs currently covered by the state, but those costs would be phased in.
And it creates a 401-K style plan for new workers. Perhaps the biggest difference: this version requires the state pay its share or else face potential action in court.

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