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Illinois House Votes on Three Pension-Related Measures

3/07/2013
As planned, mid-day on Thursday, the Illinois House of Representatives debated and voted on three pension-related measures. For the most part, House Republicans refused to vote at all for the three amendments, citing frustration for the political piecemeal approach established by Speaker Mike Madigan.

Pensionable Earnings Cap (HB1154 Amendment 7) – ADOPTED
IFT Position: OPPOSED

With nearly a Democrat-only vote of 65-7, lawmakers adopted a provision to set a cap on pensionable salary at the Social Security maximum, currently set at $113,700. This salary cap legislation is a significant change in Illinois pensions and, like virtually every proposal offered, is constitutionally questionable.

Under the proposal, active workers will only receive pension annuities based on the maximum Social Security salary level, adjusted annually by the federal government. Additionally, workers would not be required to make employee contributions on any portion of salary above the federal rates.

For workers who earn more than $113,700, their pensionable salary is capped at their current rate. This means that someone earning $120,000 will neither pay into or receive a pension above the current salary – even if their salary increases in the future.

The legislation does not apply to retirees and does allow top pensionable salary to be calculated under existing collective bargaining agreements or contracts.

Today’s vote did not pass legislation out of the House of Representatives; it only adopted an amendment and will require another House vote to send to the Illinois Senate. You can view the legislation here and see how your State Representative voted here.  

10-Year COLA Freeze (HB1154 Amendment 6) - FAILED
IFT Position: OPPOSED
With a vote of 2-67, House lawmakers rejected an amendment to set a 10-year freeze of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for retirees. Additionally, the legislation would establish that, upon retirement, a retiree would not collect a COLA for 10 years.

Currently, retired public workers receive a 3% compounded COLA. Often unsaid is the fact that workers also pay nearly one-half of a percent of each paycheck to pay for this benefit.

You can view the legislation here and see how your State Representative voted here.

4 Percent Employee Contribution Increase (HB1154 Amendment 8) – FAILED
IFT Position: OPPOSED
The Illinois House also rejected a measure that would require current workers to pay an additional four percentage points of their salary to help fund their pension. While the IFT and the We Are One Illinois coalition has proposed a 2% contribution increase, our support for such an increase is predicated on a guarantee that Springfield politicians make the required pension payments and adopt a solid plan to pay the pension debt. This proposal did neither.

You can view the legislation here and see how your State Representative voted here.

The House did reject two other initiatives that would freeze COLAs for 10 years and increase workers' contributions by four percentage points.
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