CHICAGO — Illinois General Assembly leaders said Wednesday that they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a pension overhaul to address to the state’s $100 billion unfunded obligation, the worst among the states.
Lawmakers did not release details of the plan. They are set to vote on the deal Tuesday.
Gov. Pat Quinn praised legislative leaders for reaching a deal. “We have more work to do,” Quinn said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the leaders and members of the General Assembly over the coming days to get this job done for the people of Illinois.”
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, was expected to spend the holiday weekend drumming up support for the plan, his spokesman told reporters.
The Republican minority leaders earlier in the day had reported progress in the discussions. “What we’re trying to do now by putting this together is make sure that we have the votes to get the thing passed,” Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont said in a televised interview.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has told members to return Dec. 3 for a one-day special session expected to begin at noon. A Committee hearing is slated for Monday during which it’s expected the not-yet-announced legislation would be vetted. Cullerton has told his members to be available on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.
The state closed out fiscal 2013 with more than $100 billion of unfunded liabilities and its five funds are collectively funded at a ratio of just 38%. A political impasse over how to overhaul benefits and contributions has been stalled for two years, driving downgrades that have left the state’s general obligation ratings the lowest among states at the low-single A level and driven up its borrowing costs.
A legislative conference committee appointed earlier this year has been hashing out a compromise plan. More recently, legislative leaders took the committee’s framework and began tinkering with it to increase its savings level.
A formal plan has not been released but lawmakers say they are aiming to shave between $138 billion and $150 billion off of the state’s payments over a 30-year schedule to stabilize the system. Any changes to the system are expected to face a legal challenge from unions. The state constitution grants pension benefits contractual rights and protects them from diminishment or impairment.