Madigan won't take up Senate pension plan
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan plans to scrap a proposal to give workers a choice in pension benefit changes and once again have the House vote on his own reform plan.
Madigan Wednesday filed an amendment to Senate Bill 2404, union-backed pension reform legislation that passed the Senate in May.
The Chicago Democrat's amendment would gut the bill of the union-backed pension reform and replace it with a House reform plan that passed the House but was rejected by the Senate.
"This is consistent with the plan the House is continuing to urge adoption of," said Madigan spokesman Steve Brown. "The speaker said very clearly the other day the better of the options is the bill that the House passed. Those have the most savings to attack the problem in the most comprehensive way."
Madigan's amendment includes the reform plan passed by the House that cuts cost-of-living adjustments, raises the retirement age and hikes employee contributions, among other provisions. It does not give workers a choice in the changes.
As passed by the Senate, SB2404 gave workers and retirees a choice of changes to their pensions. It was negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, in conjunction with public employee unions. The plan saves less money than the House reform plan, but Cullerton believes it has a far better chance of surviving a court challenge.
The Senate has already voted decisively against the House reform bill. Madigan did not allow the Senate version to come to a vote in the House.
"I'm quite sure there are a number of representatives who would like the opportunity to vote on the original Senate bill," said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon. "Members of the House should have that opportunity. Senators were certainly given the chance to vote on the House pension bill."
Phelon said Cullerton next week still plans to advance a compromise pension reform bill suggested by Gov. Pat Quinn.
After a meeting with Cullerton and Madigan Tuesday, Quinn said both the House and Senate reform plans should be passed. If the courts then struck down the House reform plan, the Senate plan would take effect.
Madigan, though, didn't indicate any willingness to consider that approach. Instead, he said Quinn and Cullerton should talk with senators to convince them to support the House proposal.
Madigan's amendment will be heard in a House committee Tuesday afternoon, the day before the legislature is scheduled to return to Springfield in a special session to address pensions.
Quinn called the special session after two bond-rating agencies again downgraded the state's credit rating.
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.