In just over a week a pension overhaul went from an agreement between Illinois' legislative leaders to law. Tuesday, lawmakers voted for the plan to bring down the state's 100 billion dollar pension debt. Thursday Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law. Senator Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, was key to its passage. During the Senate debate, he called it a reasonable compromise:
"This step is crucial, it is necessary, I don't come to it easily, I think none of (us) come to us easily. But it is an absolutely essential part of the process to restoring the state's fiscal integrity."
The new law takes away state workers' yearly three-percent, compounded pension raises. It replaces them with a lesser retirement benefit ... one that is tied to years of service and the consumer price index. It also raises the retirement age for younger workers. Unions say that breaks a constitutional guarantee that says retirement benefits cannot be diminished. They plan a lawsuit. A coalition of unions say attorneys are preparing a case, but they do not know when or where it will be filed.
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