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Madigan Moves To Gut Cullerton’s Pension Reform Plan

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(CBS) – House Speaker Michael Madigan has taken steps to replace Senate President John Cullerton’s pension reform plan with his own, even though the speaker’s plan was soundly defeated in the Senate last month.

On Wednesday, Madigan filed an amendment to Cullerton’s pension reform plan — which is now before the House — essentially replacing it with virtually the same language in Madigan’s plan for addressing the state’s $100 billion pension debt.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said, “This changes (Cullerton’s) bill to (the) House bill. This is the best bill, most savings, best course of action.”

The speaker also has scheduled a meeting of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee for Tuesday to vote on the new language. Gov. Pat Quinn has ordered a special session of the General Assembly on the next day to deal with pension reform.

The House already has approved Madigan’s pension plan, and if it signs off on this latest maneuver, Madigan’s pension plan would go back to the Senate for another vote.

While Madigan’s plan would save more money than Cullerton’s plan, Cullerton’s plan is widely viewed as being more likely to found constitutional by the courts.

Madigan’s plan died in the Senate last month, when it failed by a 16-42 vote, and Cullerton has urged the House to vote on his plan, which he asserts is constitutional, and would get enough House votes to send to Quinn for his signature.

Earlier this week, the governor asked Cullerton to pass legislation that would combine the two competing pension plans, so that the courts could sort out which parts of the two plans are constitutional. Cullerton said he would move that compromise through the Senate, but Madigan would not commit to calling for a House vote.