Welch votes Yes, Lightford No on new Illinois pension law

Proposal receives Gov. Pat Quinn's signature


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Staff writer

State lawmakers in Springfield approved a sweeping pension reform bill this week that aims to cut a $100 billion funding shortfall — the highest in the nation — for the state pension system.

The bill was signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

"This landmark legislation is a bipartisan solution that squarely addresses the most difficult fiscal issue Illinois has ever confronted," Quinn said in a press release Wednesday. "This bill will ensure retirement security for those who have faithfully contributed to the pension systems, end the squeeze on critical education and health care services, and support economic growth."

The new law increases the retirement age and employee contribution and reduces cost-of-living adjustments for state workers such as teachers and public safety workers. The plan is expected to reduce the funding deficit over 30 years.

A coalition of unions operating under the name "We Are One Illinois" have opposed the pension reform measure, saying that, "Teachers, caregivers, police and others stand to lose huge portions of their life savings because politicians chose to threaten their retirement security." The group has threatened to challenge the pension reform bill in court.

The state senate approved the reform bill with 30 yeas, 24 nays and 3 voting present; and the state house approved with 62 yeas, 53 nays and 1 present. Here's how your delegation voted:

Forest Park

Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-7th) Yes

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-4th) No


Oak Park

Sen. Don Harmon (D-39th) Yes

Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-8th) No

Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (D-78th) No


Riverside Brookfield

Rep. Silvana Tabares (D-21st) Yes

Rep. Michael J. Zalewski (D-23rd) Yes

Rep. Elizabeth "Lisa" Hernandez (D-24th) Yes

Sen. Martin A. Sandoval (D-11th) Yes

Sen. Steven M. Landek (D-12th) Yes




Rep. Derrick Smith (D-10th) No


Reader Comments

9 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Bill D  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 4:11 PM

I don't for a second argue that Illinois politicians aren't to blame for this debacle. It's a mess. One that had to be addressed. Teachers retiring in the next few years won't see their base pension reduced. They WILL see the brakes put on an unsustainable 3 percent annual COLA. And younger teachers will see a lower base pension. That sucks, but something had to be done. I get it. The politicians FUBARed this. But we're not talking about soon to retire educators having to apply for food stamps.

watcher from FoPa  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 3:10 PM

Teachers put ~10% of their salary into their retirement, for 30+ years in exchange for a pension. That's the CONTRACT they made with the state. Regardless of whether or not YOU like the terms of that contract, it must be legally binding on both parties or nothing means much of anything. SB 1 was an illegal taking by the state. If the courts allow it, we're all screwed.

Average Joe from Forest Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 1:25 PM

First, Social Security or not, the new law will reduce the teacher's TRS contribution from 9.4% to 8.4%. Now THAT is a deal. All of the money in my retirement account has been put there by ME, with my employer matching 4%. No, I do not feel sorry for the teachers. Second, Watcher is correct. The thieving Illinois politicians created this mess. If it weren't for my wife having family here, I would be joining all those that are fleeing this most corrupt state in the country.

Bill D.  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 11:42 AM

The TOP social security monthly payment is, I believe, around $29,500 annually, and few people receive that, with the average Soc. Sec. being considerably lower. In the past 20 years, COLAs, which are not guaranteed, raised that by about 49 percent, averaging about 2.4 percent.

watcher from FoPa  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 8:49 AM

@ Ogre The $ amount of pensions didn't cause this "crisis". The state "borrowed" the money it owed the pension plans and SPENT it. Now they've found a clever way to erase that debt. You're still looking at this backwards. This "fix" just gave them another $1.2 billion to SPEND with ZERO accountability.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: December 5th, 2013 8:18 AM

Gee, only 46,000, must be rough.

Hope to Retire Someday from Forest Park  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 10:18 PM

The average TRS pension benefit is $46,000. Teachers are deprived of the opportunity to contribute to/benefit from social security.

Bill D.  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 8:13 PM

Yeah, or they realized that's it's more than possible for a retired teacher, after 30 years of service, to survive on $67,000 annually, increasing to $91,000 annually after 20 years, under the drastic reductions of the new law. Rather than the original $120,000 annually at tax payer expense. Call me an ogre, but how is that unfair?

Robert Snyder from Forest park  

Posted: December 4th, 2013 7:27 PM

Guess those who voted yes must not have friends or relatives who are teachers or belong to the union.

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