Fortner: Don't count some raises toward pensions
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SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Mike Fortner told a panel of lawmakers Monday that end-of-career pay raises given to increase workers' pensions shouldn't count toward their retirement benefits.
The West Chicago Republican appeared before the third meeting of a bipartisan committee that's trying to find a solution to the state's $100 billion in pension debt.
Fortner presented a proposal he's been pushing for years that includes not allowing teachers to count toward their pensions pay raises granted because they plan to retire. A worker's final salary helps determine their pension level.
"This is just another form of spiking pensions," Fortner said.
State law already penalizes local districts that give end-of-career raises of more than 6 percent, making them pay the state for the pension costs incurred by the higher salary. The Daily Herald has reported that law costs some suburban districts hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
Fortner's plan wouldn't cost districts any more. But it would target raises up to 6 percent that districts often automatically give once a teacher decides to retire.
Fortner's plan included other components, including one that could change each year how much teachers and workers pay toward their own retirement. His plans haven't been seriously debated in full. However, with lawmakers at loggerheads over how to proceed, they're looking for new ideas.
Gov. Pat Quinn has suggested there would be "consequences" if lawmakers don't find a pension solution by Tuesday, but they aren't poised to go along. So the governor could try to alter lawmakers' annual budget or make other moves this week in response to the lack of action.
Monday's hearing was the third for the committee, and they now plan to work in the coming weeks on trying to put a proposal together that could win approval, a task that has eluded officials all this year and last.
Lawmakers are set to meet at the Capitol Tuesday, but plan to focus on overriding Quinn's veto of legislation allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed firearms in public.
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