Chicago’s police and fire pension fund contributions will be reduced in the near term after the Illinois General Assembly overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the measure.
The House and Senate voted Monday to override Mr. Rauner’s Friday veto of the bill, which reduces Chicago's required pension payments to the $2.4 billion Chicago Policemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund and the $1 billion Chicago Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund over five years, starting in 2016, and extends the deadline for the fire and police pension funds to reach 90% funding to 2055 from the current 2040 deadline. The General Assembly originally passed the bill in May 2015.
The measure is expected to reduce Chicago police and fire pension contributions by $220 million in 2016 and $843 million total over the next five years.
“In his veto letter to legislators on May 27, Mr. Rauner wrote that the bill continues the “irresponsible practice” of deferring pension funding decisions and sticks taxpayers with higher future pension contributions.
“By deferring responsible funding decisions until 2021 and then extending the timeline for reaching responsible funding levels from 2040 to 2055, Chicago is borrowing against its taxpayers to the tune of $18.6 billion,” Mr. Rauner wrote to legislators on May 27. “This practice has to stop. If we continue, we’ve learned nothing from our past mistakes.”
Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Mr. Rauner, maintained Monday that the bill is another example of politicians “kicking the can down the road” and instead, local and state governments should “focus on reforms that will grow our economy, create jobs and enable us live up to the promises we’ve made to police and firefighters.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised legislators on Monday for overriding Mr. Rauner’s veto. “On Memorial Day I particularly want to thank the Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly for putting politics aside and doing the right thing for Chicago taxpayers, and for our first responders,” Mr. Emanuel said in a statement. “We in the city agreed to step up and finally do our part to and responsibly fund these pensions. … While for the first time in history our police and fire pensions will be funded appropriately, I will not rest until and municipal and laborers’ pensions are fully secured as well.”