SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has backed most of Gov. Pat Quinn's plans to reduce the state's retirement costs, winning him rare praise from a business group that's often critical of the Democratic governor.
Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce President John Schmitt spoke at a Springfield news conference Wednesday to back Quinn's proposal. He said if lawmakers don't do something soon to address the state's $83 billion deficit in its pension funds, the funds could become insolvent.
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"Now is the time," Schmitt said. "Doing nothing is unacceptable." Quinn has laid out a plan that would have teachers and state workers chip in 3 percent more of their salaries toward their retirements. His plan would also raise the retirement age to 67 and reduce the annual pension increases future retirees would get.
"Gov. Quinn deserves both praise and widespread support from across Illinois," said Illinois Chamber President Doug Whitley.
But the plan might not receive widespread support from state lawmakers.
They continue to debate the finer points of pension reform proposals behind closed doors, shooting to have some kind of plan together by the end of the month.
What -- or whether -- they approve any major fixes to the state system remains unclear as lawmakers face difficult decisions over the complex problem with less than four weeks before their deadline.
Whitley stopped short of backing the idea of shifting some of the state's retirement costs for teachers onto local schools and community colleges, which suburban educators have vehemently opposed. Whitley says he needs to see how it'd work, first.