SPRINGFIELD — As lawmakers continue trying to find a solution to the state’s escalating retirement costs, senators Tuesday discussed a plan from state Sen. Jim Oberweis that would eventually eliminate teachers’ pensions.
A Senate panel didn’t vote on the Sugar Grove Republican’s idea, though, continuing the uncertainty over what lawmakers might eventually decide on the issue.
Under Oberweis’ proposal, teachers and state workers would move to contributing to a 401k-style retirement plans going forward. The pension benefits they’ve already earned would be untouched.
He argues the only way to tackle the state’s immense pension debt is to all but get rid of the system going forward.
“I view Illinois very much like a company on the verge of bankruptcy,” Oberweis said.
Oberweis’ plan is backed by the conservative Illinois Policy Institute and has been largely ignored by top Democrats in the House.
Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, reiterated questions that have all but taken over the pensions debate. The Illinois Constitution says pension benefits can’t be diminished.
“We’re not making this stuff up,” Cullerton said. “This is a constitution.”