SPRINGFIELD-The path toward solving Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension crisis may be veering toward three obscure bills that the House passed in March and that quietly began moving in the state Senate Tuesday evening.
Legislation to hike the retirement age for employees under 45, cap “pensionable” salaries at Social Security wages and delay when retirees can get compounding, annual cost-of-living increases was discharged from the Senate Assignments Committee.
The House passed all three bills in March in a series of test votes on pensions to gauge support for a comprehensive pension-reform package. The three bills contain key pieces of what is in Senate Bill 1, the Madigan-backed pension omnibus the House passed this month but that has stalled in the Senate amid intense union opposition.
With the House unwilling to consider a scaled-back, union-endorsed pension plan that passed the Senate this month, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is now considering those three measures as a pension stalemate between the House and Senate on the two other competing plans continues.
“All legislative options for a comprehensive plan are being considered,” Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday.
It’s “time to look at every possible pension solution with the caucus so that we can chart a way forward,” she said.
The three bills passed the House with bi-partisan support in mid-March but have remained bottled up in Senate committee until late Tuesday. If the Senate were to pass the three piecemeal pension plans that moved out of the House in March, they would go directly to the governor.
On Tuesday, supporters of Senate Bill 1, which is Quinn’s favored approach, touted new data that showed the plan would save the state $187 billion in payments during the next 30 years. That is more than three times what the Senate-passed pension package, Senate Bill 2404, would save.
How much the three House bills passed in March would save collectively isn’t entirely clear. They are House Bill 1154, House Bill 1165 and House Bill 1166.