Unions support new Illinois pension reform bill

May 6, 2013 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)

Cullerton says that instead he will bring to the floor another plan backed by many of the state's unions. He says his plan is safer because the unions wouldn't challenge it in court.

"This bill is not as risky as the bill the House passed because the House bill could end up saving zero dollars and not only saving zero if the Supreme Court has thrown it out but also it delays us by a year. We have to come back to Springfield and pass another bill," said Cullerton.

Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, says the group is trying to ensure fairness for public employees and retirees. 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.

Carrigan says the group is asking legislators to oppose a solution that House Speaker Michael Madigan backs. Madigan's plan calls for higher pension contributions from employees and limits on how much in pension benefits retirees may collect.

The Illinois pension gap is nearly $100 billion and Cullerton says his plan would save $46 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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