SPRINGFIELD -- Longtime Illinois state employees could be on the verge of losing the free health insurance they get in retirement.
Legislation to end the benefit was approved 31-20 by the state Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is pushing to cut retirement benefits.
Suburban lawmakers largely supported the plan, though state Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, voted against it and Republican state Sens. Tom Johnson of West Chicago and John Millner of Carol Stream did not vote.
"If we don't do this, where are we going to come up with the money that this could save?" said state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican.
Currently, people who spend 20 years working for the state don't have to pay health insurance premiums after retiring. Under the new plan, retirees would pay a premium based on their years working for the state and ability to pay.
Legislators called it a difficult move they needed to make if Illinois is going to repair unsustainable health care and pension systems.
"It's time we started on reform and this is one of the places to start," said state Sen. Carole Pankau, an Itasca Republican.
• Daily Herald staff writer Ryan Voyles contributed to this story.