Pension work continues on

August 30, 2013 

Out of sight often means out of mind, but fortunately the opposite seems to be true for Illinois pension reform.

A group of lawmakers have been meeting quietly and out of the spotlight this summer. While they're still a long way from any solution to Illinois' $100 billion pension hole, at least they have some new ideas.

For instance, one idea being floating is cutting back on expensive, outlandish cost-of-living increases that retirees now get in exchange for current employees paying 1 percent less into their pensions.

Clearly the lawmakers had to add that sweetener to try to sell the idea to the unions, but no such luck. The coalition We Are One made it clear it would legally challenge any reduction in retiree benefits as unconstitutional.

A court ultimately would have to decide that. But even if the unions are right, it begs the question: How does the state fix the pensions if workers won't agree to concessions?

Some concessions now might be preferable to retirees worrying later about whether their pensions will be there for them. States can't go bankrupt, but pension plans can.

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