House endorses three-fifths requirement for pension boosts – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

19 Apr

With no dissenting votes, the Illinois House Wednesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it more difficult to increase pension benefits for public employees.

The House voted 113-0 to adopt the amendment, HJRCA 49, and send it to the Senate, which also must approve it before it can appear on the November ballot.

A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he supports the amendment.

Sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the amendment requires any legislation that enhances pension benefits for public employees to be approved by three-fifths votes in the General Assembly.

In the House, that means pension enhancements would have to be approved by 71 lawmakers instead of 60.  In the Senate, 36 lawmakers would have to approve them rather than 30.

“There’s a lot of tough medicine in this resolution,” Madigan said. “I think tough medicine is needed.”

Many of the pension enhancements approved in the last decade for employees in the state-funded systems have passed with nearly unanimous votes. Madigan, though, said the amendment “creates an extra hurdle for a bill to move through the legislature.”

“This will advantage your position if you want to work against (enhancements),” Madigan said.

Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said the real problem facing the state pension systems isn’t overly generous benefits, but state government’s longstanding practice of spending money that should have been devoted to pensions on other things.

“What contributed to the liability as much as anything else was not making (state payments),” Poe said.

He said the amendment should be changed to also require a three-fifths vote if lawmakers want to put less than the required payment into the systems.

The vote came as a working group of lawmakers continued to struggle with ways to corral the state’s pension debt, which tops $83 billion. They were supposed to recommend money-saving changes to the systems that could also survive a potential lawsuit.

Those recommendations have not yet been made public.

via House endorses three-fifths requirement for pension boosts – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

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