From AP - News Local/State -

Senate President: ‘Credible’ Pension Plan from Unions

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he's negotiated a "credible and constitutional'' pension-reform plan.

Cullerton released a statement Wednesday that he's discussed a recent proposal with unions representing teachers, nurses, police officers and other public employees.

The Chicago Democrat's statement did not reveal the deal's substance. But he says he will begin discussing its details with Democratic senators and House Speaker Michael Madigan - also a Chicago Democrat.

Madigan on Wednesday advanced his own plan for trimming pension benefits and increasing participants' contributions to solve the crisis.

State officials' decades of underfunding has left the five pension accounts $97 billion short of what they need in the long run.

Cullerton has insisted that unilaterally cutting benefits or requiring increased contributions would violate the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday said the Illinois House should act quickly to approve a pension-reform package because the state's economy depends on it.

Years of state underfunding of pension accounts has left Illinois $97 billion short of covering future obligations.  The Democratic governor says the liability grows by $17 million a day. He says Illinois' economy won't fully recover until reform is approved.

But union representatives told a House committee Wednesday the opposite is true. Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna says cutting pension benefits takes away money retirees spend in local communities and especially hits teachers who don't have Social Security benefits.