Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a pitch to Illinois lawmakers Tuesday for overhauling the city’s employee pension program, saying the “day of reckoning has arrived” because costs are out of control.
According to the Chicago Tribune
, Emanuel told a state House pension committee that he wants to freeze cost-of-living increases for retirees for up to 10 years and raise the retirement age as well. The Tribune said he also called for workers to pay more into the retirement system and to give new city employees the option of joining a 401(k) program.
Unless something is done soon, Emanuel warned, “Chicago’s economy and the quality of life will falter” because education and other important programs will have to be cut.
Emanuel’s visit to the state Capitol in Springfield was considered rare for Chicago mayors but necessary as lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn consider ways to cut the costs of the state pension program, which is about $80 billion in debt.
Chicago’s pension system alone is some $20 billion in debt.
The Tribune reported that having Emanuel “on board and out front for pension reform gives a measure of momentum to the issue — as well as political cover for lawmakers.”
“I think his presence is helpful on pension reform across the board,” agreed Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
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