House votes to curb retirement perk
If you felt a tremor around 3 p.m. Wednesday, it most likely traveled from Springfield. The Illinois House voted 74-43 to end a generous retirement benefit for state and public university workers, General Assembly members and judges.
Sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, the legislation would force about 78,000 retirees to pay more toward their health care costs. The state pays all the premiums for most retirees, costing taxpayers about $800 million a year. Illinois can’t afford that.
This bill is part of three legs of essential financial reform in the state: 1) Retiree health care costs, 2) Pension reform, 3) Medicaid reform.
31 senators cast the tough vote that others only promise
Who says government can’t move quickly? One day after the Illinois House voted to kill a generous retirement perk for most state retirees, the Senate did the same by a 31-20 margin. The bill heads to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. Quinn said late Thursday that he will sign it.
Once he does, retired state and university employees, General Assembly members and judges no longer will enjoy virtually free health care. Taxpayers will no longer pay the full $800 million annual price tag of covering retiree health care premiums. Instead, a state agency overseen by a legislative committee will determine premium costs based on how much money state government has available. Retirees will help carry the load, based on a sliding scale of how much they earn in retirement.
This is called sea change.