Democratic lawmakers in Illinois are fighting against public unions over pension costs in an effort to solve the state's $100 billion pension crisis, and union leaders are trying to put a stop to the effort.
Legislative leaders in the state Senate are proposing changing the retirement age of workers, reducing automatic pension increases, and limiting collective bargaining privileges. Union leaders say the proposals are similar to a measure rejected in the General Assembly earlier, Fox News
"It's an unfair, unconstitutional scheme that undermines retirement security," says a coalition of state union groups. "It's no compromise at all with those who earned and paid for their retirement benefits. In fact, reports suggest the leaders have repackaged Senate Bill 1 and barely bothered to disguise it."
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is promoting the plan, says the changes will save the pension program about $160 billion over 30 years. The plan could come up for a vote this week, putting Illinois in the same company with Republican-run states, such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, that have tried or have succeeded in limiting collective bargaining power of unions.
Democratic lawmakers have faced a tough budget balancing by trying to appease labor unions and honoring the Illinois Constitution, which says pension benefits cannot be "diminished or impaired."
According to The New York Times
, Illinois' budget shortfall has earned the state s the worst credit rating in the nation, which is one reason Quinn has put the pension issue at the top of his agenda. Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also pushed state lawmakers to change the system, which the city could then use as a model to correct its own pension issues.
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