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Pension Reform Vote Due Today in Springfield


Tuesday, December 3, 2013   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A vote on the long-debated issue of pension reform in Illinois is expected today in Springfield. Details of a plan developed by legislative leaders last week were just released Monday and are drawing criticism from the "We are One" coalition, a group of unions that would be most affected by pension reform.

The Illinois Education Association is among those groups, and according to spokesman Charles McBarron, the proposal includes devastating cuts that hike retirement age, undermine pensions by expanding 401(k) plans, and reduce cost-of-living increases as much as one-third.

"Cutting this cost-of-living increase as proposed would not allow these retirees to keep up with inflation, and it could have a very detrimental effect on people's life and their ability to have a dignified, reasonable retirement" he charged.

Supporters say a fix is needed sooner rather than later, and that this proposal would close the $100 billion deficit in the state's five pension systems in 30 years. The Illinois House and Senate will consider the plan today.

McBarron declared that pension reform affects people's lives, and is not something that should be rushed, without the input of all interested parties.

"We're not talking about numbers on a piece of paper," he said. "We're talking about people. We're talking about people who have to live on what they get in their pensions, and then taking that away from them."

McBarron added that the "We are One" coalition has worked hard to negotiate a fair and constitutional solution to the pension problem, but this current bill takes away all the work they've done.

"The reason we have a pension issue in this state is because the Legislature did not make the payments that the state was required to make," he said. "They used the money for other things. Now, they want to simply write off the money they owe the pension systems, and that's not right."

Governor Pat Quinn and fellow Democrats, who control the General Assembly, support the plan.

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