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Madigan Drops Plan to Shift Pension Costs to School Districts

Under pressure from Illinois Republicans and Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan announced he's dropping his proposal to shift teacher pension costs to local school districts.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) on Wednesday dropped his controversial proposal to shift the costs of teacher pensions from the state to local school districts, universities and community colleges.

The announcement came after two days of spirited debate over pension reform in both the House and Senate.

Madigan's plan, which was part of Senate Bill 1673, was widely criticized by Republicans, and threatened to derail other legislation to address the state's massive pension shortfall.

Madigan said he reached the decision after Gov. Pat Quinn asked him to drop the amendment, the Associated Press reports.

“He agrees with the Republicans. He thinks that we ought to remove the issue of the shift of normal cost out of the bill,” Madigan told the House on Wednesday night. “I disagree with the governor, but he is the governor. This is his request.”

Quinn's request was a shift from his previous position. Jerry Stermer, the governor's budget director, told Illinois Statehouse News that "forcing school districts and colleges to pay employees' retirement benefits is the responsible thing to do" since school boards negotiate teachers' pay.

Stermer added that the governor would support anything that could fix the state's unfunded pension liability.

The bill was handed over to House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, who slammed Madigan on Tuesday, calling his proposal a "poison pill" to kill pension legislation.

Plans to remove Madigan's amendment will be considered by a House Panel on Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Illinois currently has an $83 billion unfunded pension liability—$44 billion of which is from the Teachers' Retirement System.

With the cost-shift language off the table, lawmakers could vote on a comprehensive pension reform plan before the legislative session ends Thursday night.

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Tony May 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I still am waiting to see just one of these two faced politicians offer to take some of thier bloated pensions away, all the burden is put on the working class.As far as I am concerned they voted themselves these pensions illegally anyway so why not give them back.I could only imagine what it would look like at the local Social Security office if a few hundred thousand taxpayers demanded full pay for retirement and full medical benefits even if they only worked for a year or so and big pay raises every year and the right to hold other jobs at the same time.This pension debate just goes to show how rotten these people really are, not one of them has ever even brought up the idea of returning some of this money and trying to reverse the laws that gave the money to them in the first place. It seems strange that the only pensions that are affected are the pensions that belong to the working class,but not the politicians. If I am not mistaken ,we pay for all of them from our tax money so we need to get a bill passed that none of our money will be used to fund the politicians pension fund until our pension fund has been paid and has enough money to pay the people who paid into it.
Ray May 31, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I know it's not a nice thing to say but I wish Mike Madigan had the stroke instead of Mark Kirk. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he should shoulder the biggest percentage of the blame for what is wrong with this state. Him and anyone who has ever been the mayor of Chicago. If it were not for financial considerations and my child still being in high school I would move my family out of this state in a blink. It's just to damned expensive to live here and there is no end in site. Eventually they're not going to be able to make people who smoke or drink pay for everything and then what?
Tony May 31, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Illinois has always had an army of voters on the payrolls and that is why people like Madigan are still in office,people who are on State and City payrolls vote for the chosen candidate or lose thier job, its as simple as that.Until the regular voters get off the asses and go to the polls the patronage system will continue to win and the taxpayers will continue to lose.
Nick Beam May 31, 2012 at 07:38 PM
This. Great comment.
Nick Beam May 31, 2012 at 07:38 PM
You're right. That's a terrible thing to say. Why not just say I hope he gets voted out? As I do.

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