The pension “fix” for Chicago was approved yesterday in both the House and the State Senate. It only provides relief for 2 of the 5 pension funds. Those are:
- MEABF – Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago
- LABF – Laborers’ and Retirement Board Employees’ Annuity Benefit Fund of Chicago
The bill provides slower increases and for some years no increases in benefits. It does not cut benefits as some claim.
The Chicago Teachers Union was left out of this bill, so that is still to come later in the session. The amended bill also removed the property tax increase. This means the city council will be left to decide the property tax issue. It’s interesting that even though the increase was removed the language stating more revenue is needed is still included:
The General Assembly has been advised by the City that the City cannot feasibly reduce its other expenses to address this serious problem without an unprecedented reduction in basic City services. Personnel costs constitute approximately 75% of the non-discretionary appropriations for the City. As such, reductions in City expenditures to fund pensions would necessarily result in substantial cuts to City personnel, including in key services areas such as public safety, sanitation, and construction. In sum, the crisis confronting the City and its Funds is so large and immediate that it cannot be addressed through increased funding alone, without modifying employee contribution rates and annual adjustments for current and future retirees. The consequences to the City of attempting to do so would be draconian. Accordingly, the General Assembly concludes that, unless reforms are enacted, the benefits currently promised by the Pension Funds are at risk.
GOP Leader Christine Radogno did not put any votes on the bill although 1 Republican (Karen McConnaughay) cast a meaningless vote for the bill since the Democrats had enough to pass it without the vote. Sen. Kirk Dillard voted Present along with Sen. Pam Althoff.
Senate Final Vote
GOP House Leader got 24 Republicans to vote for approval. This allowed multiple Democrats to vote no and protect them this fall.