NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — A demonstration in Naperville focused on Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to increase the retirement age and cut pensions for teachers.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, the Thursday afternoon protest took place in Naperville because 175 teachers and labor supporters wanted to target state Rep. Darlene Sanger (R-Naperville), who was part of Quinn’s group that worked on the pension reforms.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

Sanger’s office is across the street from the free speech pavilion along the Naperville Riverwalk.

The teachers are objecting to a plan in the works in Springfield that could cut their incremental cost of living adjustments and send a larger chunk of their income to the pension fund, which is currently carrying a $44 billion unfunded liability.

Gov. Pat Quinn last month laid out a proposal that calls for an increase in the retirement age to 67 and a reduction of the 3.5 percent cost of living adjustment to 3 percent or half of the consumer price index, whichever is less. Quinn estimates the plan will save the state between $65 billion and $85 billion by 2045 and wipe out the systems’ unfunded liability.

The educators take exception to the plan. The protest, coordinated by Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice and Educators United for Strong Public Schools, especially took aim at Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, who is part of a legislative group working on the issue.

“I just feel that they want to solve the state’s problems on the back of one group of people,” said Chris Sines, a retiree who taught at Geneva Middle School for 34 years.

Mary Shesgreen of Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice, who described pension reform as thinly disguised “austerity measures,” said the proposals to expand teacher obligations are unfair.

“They’re also unnecessary, because we could increase revenue instead,” she said.

Along with the graduated tax and trading fees, the nonprofit coalition supports eliminating tax loopholes that boost corporate profits and setting an income maximum for families to qualify for school vouchers.

Sanger tells the Daily Herald teachers have been filling up her e-mail and keeping her phone ringing off the hook.

The Aurora Beacon-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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