Illinois teachers would have to make a major decision about their retirement benefits under a measure the Illinois Senate approved Wednesday.
The legislation would require any teacher working at a downstate or suburban public school to make a choice: keep his or her current pension benefits, but lose access to state-backed health care upon retirement. Or take a reduced pension, but keep access to healthcare. Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says it'll save the state between 18 and 44 billion dollars over the long term. Cullerton says such a plan passes the most important test -- it would be constitutional.
The Senate earlier rejected a different plan which would have affected state and university employees’ pensions as well as teachers’. Cullerton says more “heavy lifting” is ahead. That’s the case in the House where it’s unclear what kind of reception the President’s plan will receive. Cullerton was able to get it through his chamber, though it took two tries. The first time, it came up one vote short. Minutes later one a single Democratic Senator changed his vote and it passed with the bare minimum 30 votes needed.
In southern Illinos, Republican State Senators Dave Luechtefeld of Okawville and Dale Righter of Mattoon voted against the plan. Democrats Bill Haine of Alton voted in favor of the bill and Gary Forby of Benton did not vote.
The legislation is SB-1, Amendment 3.