Illinois House OKs capping pensions, rejects 2 other reform measures

The Illinois House of Representatives passed an amendment to a pension reform bill Thursday that would cap pensions for retired workers, but soundly rejected two other amendments that would have aided the state in decreasing its $97 billion unfunded liability.

Under the amendment, which passed 65-7, pensions would be capped at the Social Security benefit base, which is now $113,700, according to the Social Security website. The base is adjusted annually for inflation. The House is attempting to piece together a comprehensive proposal before sending a reform bill to the Senate.

However, the House voted 67-2 to reject an amendment that eliminates automatic cost-of-living adjustments for retirees until Jan. 1, 2024. Retirees currently receive a 3% compounded COLA.

An amendment to increase the employee contribution for state workers by two percentage points in each of the next two years also was soundly defeated, 58-11.

In Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address on Wednesday, he called on legislators to pass meaningful pension reform.

“The COLA is currently 3% compounded annually. That's unsustainable for taxpayers,” said Mr. Quinn, according to a transcript of his budget address. “For those with higher pensions, the cost-of-living adjustment should be suspended until the entire pension system achieves better balance.”