Senate Democrats Want Union-Backed Pension Deal
By The Associated Press, With Additional Reporting from Illinois Public Radio
Illinois Senate Democrats are supporting a new union-backed pension reform proposal they say is less risky than one approved in the House last week.
Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers believe the House bill sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan would be found unconstitutional because it unilaterally cuts benefits.
The union-backed measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. For example, if workers choose to receive health insurance in retirement they would receive smaller cost-of-living increases.
Those who choose to keep 3 percent cost-of-living increases compounded annually wouldn't get health insurance. Cullerton says the plan could save around $46 billion and would survive a court challenge.
"Anybody can sue," he said. "I'm just saying that it's very important that the unions have individually said that they would definitely sue on a questionable constitutional argument for the bill that's passed out of the House. But on this one they would support it."
He says Madigan supported a similar measure last year, and he expects bipartisan support for it.
A Senate committee could hear the bill Wednesday.