Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

June 27, 2013

Pension panel's 1st hearing has familiar testimony



That dissidence was still evident at Thursday's hearing with back-and-forth among committee members about their exact mission and how to proceed.

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican who announced his gubernatorial bid this week, questioned why the committee didn't have a concrete plan, but said he didn't have one either when Raoul asked committee members.

"I'm a little disappointed that we didn't make more progress," he said after the hearing.

It was also clear from the testimony how deeply the issue has divided interest groups.

For instance, the We Are One Illinois coalition of unions, backs Cullerton's bill over Madigan's plan.

Cullerton's plan gives workers and retirees a choice in retirement benefits, but was never called for a House floor vote. Unions say that it'll better survive a court challenge than Madigan's plan, which unilaterally cuts benefits. Quinn has supported Madigan's plan.

Steve Kreisberg, a national pension policy director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Cullerton's legislation "is the compromise bill."

Others who testified included state Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat who reminded lawmakers of his reform plan that includes making the temporary income tax increase permanent to help pay the state portion of employee pension costs.

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