Chicago teacher bailout on hold until state pension reform

A bailout for Chicago teachers pensions is on hold while lawmakers continue to work on a statewide pension reform proposal.

Both Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and leading Republican Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, put motions to reconsider on the $215 million Chicago pension bailout, effectively freezing the legislation.

Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said that’s in anticipation of working on a statewide pension reform package.

“This is an agreed upon maneuver in order to ensure that these negotiations on a broader agreement can continue over the next few months,” Patterson said.

Patterson said that pension reform deal is still in the works.

“You’re talking about a very complex issue, especially given the constitutional protections and the legal rulings that have come out,” Patterson said.

Patterson said people should not focus on the possible $1 billion annual savings.

“The last time we focused just on money, it ended up saving the state nothing because it was unconstitutional.”

Cullerton’s proposal could give public sector workers a choice of giving up expensive benefits for something else in return. That could jive with a state Supreme Court ruling that pension benefits can’t be diminished. But Patterson said any deal is expected to be challenged in the courts.

Senate Democrats had been paying Eric Madiar, a former staff attorney turned lobbyist, $10,000 a month to consult on pension reform. Patterson said Madiar’s contract expired June 30 and has not been renewed.

–Illinois News Network

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