With little debate and the heft of Springfield\’s top Democrats, the General Assembly sent a pension reform bill to Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday.
Don’t get too excited, fiscal hawks — it only affects Chicago Park District employees. But the bill\’s passage shows lawmakers can agree on controversial pension changes when they get serious about it. It didn\’t hurt that the bill\’s chief sponsors were House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Things happen when they work together.
First, the scope:
Under the bill, Park District employees would pay more toward their own retirements, rising from 9 percent of their paychecks currently to 12 percent by 2019. Workers would no longer be able to retire at age 50 with 30 years of service; they would work to age 58 for full retirement benefits. That provision wouldn\’t impact workers who are 45 or older on Jan. 1, 2015, the date the changes take effect. So employees nearing retirement would be exempt.
Cost-of-living raises for all retired workers would change from 3 percent simple interest to whichever is less: 3 percent simple interest or half of the consumer price index. In addition, to help stabilize the system, no retirees would receive cost-of-living increases in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Younger workers get a trade-off: They now are under a 2011 pension formula that set their retirement age at 67. That age for so-called Tier 2 workers drops to 65 under the new bill. More…