Illinois House committee Oks pension overhaul plan

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois House committee has given the go-ahead to a long-awaited plan to address Illinois' pension crisis.
   
The proposal the panel approved 6-3 on Monday calls for higher employee contributions and freezes retirees' cost-of-living increases. It now heads to the House floor.
   
The amended bill emerged over the weekend when the House reconvened for the final days of the lame-duck session. It doesn't contain a provision to make suburban and downstate schools pick up pension costs, something that previously had been a sticking point.
   
Gov. Pat Quinn and House Minority Leader Tom Cross back the bill. Quinn had set a deadline for pension legislation for Wednesday, when new lawmakers take office.
   
Illinois has the worst-in-the-nation pension problem with roughly $96 billion in unfunded liability.
   
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The bill is SB1673.
   
Online: http://www.ilga.gov

Earlier story:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A House committee has begun considering a plan to solve Illinois' pension crisis by freezing cost-of-living increases for retirees and asking employees to contribute more.
   
Sen. Elaine Nekritz is the bill's sponsor. She says it may not be perfect but will help keep Illinois from falling back into a "deep pension abyss."
   
Gov. Pat Quinn and House Minority Leader Tom Cross both back the proposal.
   
It wouldn't award annual cost-of-living increases until the age of 67 and would increase employee contributions by 2 percent of salary, spread over two years. Once cost-of-living increases took effect at 67, they'd be applied only to the first $25,000 of a retiree's pension.
   
It would require the state to fully fund its portion of pensions under threat of legal action by the accounts' administrators.

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