The Illinois House approved a bill to improve funding for Chicago’s municipal and laborer pension plans.
The measure was approved by the House by a 91-16 vote on Dec. 1, the final day of the fall session. There is still an opportunity for a final Senate vote as Illinois lawmakers are expected to reconvene in early January for a lame-duck session.
The bill is intended to improve the pension fund’s funding ratios through increased city contributions and raised contributions for certain employees.
Revenue received from a 2014 increase in the city’s emergency phone surcharge and a new water and sewer tax would help cover the city’s increased contributions.
The $4.6 billion Chicago Municipal Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund had $18.6 billion in liabilities as of Dec. 31, for a funding ratio of 24.7%, according to its most recent annual report. The $1.2 billion Chicago Laborers' Annuity & Benefit Fund has a funding ratio of roughly 45%.
“I applaud the bipartisan action today by the Illinois House,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an e-mailed statement Dec. 1. “We are now one step closer to passing pension legislation that secures the retirements of city employees and retirees, while also protecting Chicago taxpayers.”
Separately, the House adjourned Dec. 1 without a final vote on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill to improve funding at the $9.5 billion Chicago Public School Teachers’ Pension & Retirement Fund with an additional $215 million state contribution in fiscal year 2017.
Mr. Rauner vetoed the bill Dec. 1 because more comprehensive pension reform for the state and local governments had not been reached, he said. The Senate voted 36-16 to override the veto later that day. Although the House has a few more days to take up a vote, Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said on Monday that the votes to override a veto are not there. The House has 15 days after the Senate vote to override the veto.