According to estimates from Illinois' pension systems, the new law overhauling benefits will save less than anticipated. The law raises the retirement age, reduces cost-of-living increases and otherwise limits the size of a state employee's pension. In December, supporters said those changes would save Illinois 160 billion dollars. But that estimate was based on old numbers. New figures from the pension funds show the savings is 15 billion dollars less. Republican Representative David McSweeney, of Barrington Hills, says that's a lot of money:
"The numbers rely on accounting gimmicks, backloaded savings and their own numbers now have already been proven incorrect. I believe that we need to focus on passing a real pension reform bill."
But backers of existing law say the smaller savings number can actually be viewed as a good sign. Better-than-expected investment returns mean Illinois owes less to the pension systems, and consequently the savings decrease, too. Either way unions say the pension overhaul is unconstitutional and want it overturned in court.
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