Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said a lack of leadership is why public pension reform hasn’t been resolved. (Photo courtesy Facebook/Christine Radogno)
By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - A top Republican leader is scrutinizing a new Illinois pension overhaul that would make a state income tax hike permanent.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said yesterday the good news is that there are several pension proposals on the table. But she said the bad news is that there isn't consensus.
She questions whether Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang's (D-Skokie) proposal is fair. He's calling for making the income-tax increase of 2011 permanent. That money would be dedicated to payments the state needs to make to catch up with a roughly $96 billion deficit in its pension accounts.
But Radogno says those funds were dedicated to help fill a budget hole and schools or public safety could also use the money.
Lang is proposing a pension solution that makes permanent the 2011 income tax increase that was supposed to expire. The additional 2 percentage points would help shore up the state’s five pension systems, which carry an unfunded liability approaching $100 billion.
Lang knows the idea will be unpopular, but he said it’s necessary.
“I think most legislators in this building … will tell you we need the dollars. And the taxpayers of the state of Illinois, even those who would be the angriest about this, will tell you we need the cash.”
Lang said other pension proposals out there are unlikely to pass a constitutional test. He said plans which present choices for pensioners reflect a reduction of benefits, which is unconstitutional.
Other features of the Lang plan:
Illinois Radio Network contributed to this report.