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Topinka: Cullerton Pension Plan ‘A Pretty Good Compromise’

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka threw her support behind Senate President John Cullerton’s pension plan on Tuesday, calling it the best bet for solving the state’s $100 billion pension crisis.

“I think he produced a pretty good compromise,” Topinka said.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Topinka believes if Cullerton’s plan had come up for a vote in the Illinois House, it would have been approved.

But House Speaker Michael Madigan never called a vote on the Senate plan.

“I felt that the Cullerton proposal was a fairer proposal than the Madigan proposal,” Topinka said. “If somehow the pieces of those could come together, where we could take the good from both of these, and compromise, and maybe get something going, well I’m going to have to leave that to the legislature. But that’s going to have to be the way to go.”

Topinka told the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability symposium in downtown Chicago that Madigan’s plan might save more money, but Cullerton’s plan is clearly constitutional.

The Illinois Senate overwhelmingly rejected Madigan’s plan, which would unilaterally cut pension benefits, and require state universities to pick up their own retirement costs.

Cullerton’s plan would give state workers a set of choices regarding retiree health care and cost-of-living increases in retirement benefits, and has been backed by the state’s labor unions.

Gov. Pat Quinn has dangled the possibility of calling a special session to deal with the pension crisis, but for that to work, there would need to be some movement toward compromise between Madigan and Cullerton.

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