WE ARE ILLINOIS
GOP decries 'another day of games' on pension reform
From the Chicago Tribune
One by one, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's forces called for test votes on changes that would greatly curtail pension benefits for government workers: eliminating cost-of-living increases, raising retirement ages, asking employees to pay more.
And each time Thursday, House Republicans opted not to push the buttons marked yes, no or present. They simply did not vote.
Leading Democrats painted the exercise as important to eventually building a consensus on how to move forward on the state's $96.8 billion pension shortfall, a way to get cooperation from unions and lawmakers who have balked at less painful measures.
But Republicans decried the process as a "charade" while the pension problem grows worse.
"What are we doing here today?" asked House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego. "Illinois politics at its finest. Another day of games. Another day of waiting. Another day of putting off the inevitable on an issue that is not going away."
"The votes today were a political maneuver, and there is no excuse for these actions, which only point to their own failed leadership on the issue," said Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs.
Cross said lawmakers should instead consider a bipartisan plan unveiled by House members this week. Under that proposal, annual cost-of-living increases would apply to only the first $25,000 of pensions, or $20,000 for those who also receive Social Security. Retirement ages would not rise for people 46 and older, but would be gradually increased for those 34 and younger. Employee contributions would rise by 1 percentage point the first year, and another 1 percentage point the second year.
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