SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.
Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.
Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.
Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.
Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.