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Illinois Senate soundly defeats Madigan pension reform plan

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois Senate tonight overwhelmingly defeated a major overhaul of the state's heavily indebted government worker pension systems, throwing into question whether cost-saving reforms will be approved before Friday night’s adjournment deadline.

The measure, whose architect is House Speaker Michael Madigan, mustered only 16 votes in the Senate while 42 voted against it. The bill needed 30 to pass.
The defeat continued the pension reform stalemate between Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, who has long argued the speaker’s plan is unconstitutional while his own would withstand a legal challenge.
Although Cullerton did not speak out against the Madigan bill during debate, he pointed out that the plan "unilaterally" scaled back cost-of-living increases, required workers to chip in more from paychecks and put limits on the size of a salary that could be counted toward a pension.
Cullerton voted for the proposal, but his Democratic troops mostly voted against the measure.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont argued the proposal would save $188 billion--about three times what the Cullerton plan would save.
"Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, it is showtime right now," Radogno said. "It’s the only bill that will save the pension systems."
But Sen. Bill Haine, a former Madison County state's attorney, said the real "showtime is in the Supreme Court of Illinois."

Cullerton’s plan, which passed the Senate and is pending in the House, would give employees and retirees options to choose, a way Cullerton says to pass a legal test. Madigan has not called Cullerton’s proposal for a vote yet.

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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