From Illinois News Network
Expect more debate about further delaying the City of Chicago’s pension burden after a measure opponents say does just that passed the House Saturday.
The legislation, sought by the city, allows the city to restructure its payment schedule and eases Chicago’s payments during the next five years. It also extends from 2040 to 2055 the deadline by which the city must meet the 90 percent funded mark.
While Chicago will still have to make a payment of nearly $620 million next year, it will still be less than the more than the nearly $840 million than would have been due without the bill, according to House Democrats.
Confronted with previous passed measures that Republican Jeanne Ives claims caused the Windy City’s pension underfunding problems by quote “kicking the can down the road,” Democratic Representative Barbara Flynn Currie said it’s time to fix the problems.
“That’s what Senate Bill 777 is all about. Let’s fix a problem that is facing the people of the City of Chicago let us help them sort out their issues, pay for their pensions but not to the tune of a six-hundred million tax increase year after year after year.”
Ives said this is the City of Chicago’s problem, not the taxpayers of the state of Illinois. The measure includes provisions for revenues from a possible casino to go to pensions, something Ives said is appropriate, given the bill number.
“This is SB 777 becuase you’re hoping for a string of lucky sevens in a casino that’s a fantasy idea right now to make this work. It couldn’t have been perfect for you to pick this bill number for this bill.”
Ives says currie is betting on a casino to cash in new revenues and isn’t willing to do the hard work to pay for the obligation. Supporters ultimately said the relief doesn’t take the city completely off the hook. They also say provisions in the measure increases benefits for survivors of deceased public safety pensioners.
Opponents say Chicago knew the time to pay their obligations was up and they didn’t plan for it appropriately. But Democrats accused the GOP of histrionics.
“Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, if Chicago gets a sniffle, the entire state catches a cold,” said Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo.
The measure passed the House and now heads to Senate for concurrence.