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Springtime in Springfield - Part 2

  Wow. You'd think somebody in Springfield read yesterday's post!

  Both Chambers of the Illinois General Assembly performed as if the state was facing a fiscal crisis of "epic proportions" and suddenly got serious about pension reform legislation.  Only hours after a House bill was introduced by Speaker Michael Madigan, the legislature passed it by an overwhelming and bi-partisan 92-17 vote with seven members voting present.

  President John Cullerton's Illinois Senate received the measure yesterday afternoon, worked late Wednesday night and approved it 48-6 with three present votes.  Again, there was bi-partisan support with republican leader Senator Christine Radogno calling the bill "substantial reform".

   It raises the retirement age to 67 for a full pension and puts a cap on annual payouts to retirees, including teachers.  The bill only affects newly-hired workers.  It's projected to save the state tens of billions of dollars in the future but is not expected to significantly affect the current $13 billion deficit.

  But the general assembly votes for pension reform are critical to the overall budget-balancing effort in the Capitol.  That's because dozens of state reps and senators of both parties have made it a non-negotiable condition for their support of any effort to increase income taxes for education or anything else.

  Think about it.  Legislative leaders and their caucuses accomplished in one long day's work a reform that budget watchdog groups have demanded for at least the past 20 years.

  And they did it in Springfield.




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