Illinois public pension

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is on board with the newest Illinois House pension solution plan.    Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says the Chicago Democrat plans to amend his proposed pension fix with language from a bipartisan House plan announced yesterday. But Cullerton would retain other provisions he says would ensure the plan's constitutionality.

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A top Illinois Republican is scrutinizing a new state pension overhaul that would make a state income tax hike permanent. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says several pension proposals are on the table, but there isn't consensus.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says the toughest issue for the state is its worst-in-the-nation public pension system, but he only made scattered references to it throughout his State of the State address Wednesday. Quinn supports Senate Bill 1, which would increase contributions and reduce benefits. The bill sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton failed to get a House vote. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded liability.

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A plan to rescue Illinois' worst-in-the-country pension problem faces uncertainty in the final full day of the lame-duck legislative session. The House adjourned with a floor vote Monday on the contentious plan to reform the pension system. House committee members approved a proposal calling for more employee contributions and freezing cost-of-living increases to close the $96 billion deficit. Backers say it's a compromise on a complex problem that addresses many concerns. But opponents question whether it's constitutional.

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The Illinois Senate adjourned yesterday, canceling today’s session, but Senate President John Cullerton told senators to be prepared to return Tuesday in case action is needed after a House session. The Senate planned no major action on the pension crisis. However, a more comprehensive proposal is waiting in the House, which will convene Sunday through Wednesday.

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With its pension funds are the most underfunded in the U.S., and a shortfall approaching $100 billion, Illinois lawmakers will meet again next week in hopes of fixing the problem. Solutions other states adopted as long as five years ago are on the table. They include higher retirement ages, asking workers to contribute more and switching to 401(k)-style plans.

Illinois public pension fund managers are reviewing their portfolios for investments in gun manufacturers after last week's Connecticut school shooting. Illinois State Board of Investment Executive Director William Atwood says the agency's $12 billion portfolio includes about 84,000 shares worth $1.7 million in three gun-makers — Olin, Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson. Spokesman Dave Urbanek says the teachers' system is reviewing its $37 billion portfolio for connections to other gun-makers.