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Mayor Urges Governor To Sign Chicago Pension Reform Plan

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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Quinn Opposes Property Tax Hike To Address Pension Debt

archive city hall 1005 Mayor Urges Governor To Sign Chicago Pension Reform Plan
WBBM 780/105.9FM

CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel essentially told Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday, “I scratched your back, now you scratch mine,” when it comes to pension reform, amid signs the governor might veto or significantly alter legislation to reform two city pension funds.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports several key state lawmakers and others expect Quinn to block or amend Emanuel’s pension reform plan, because it paves the way for the city raise property taxes by $50 million a year over five years, starting in 2016.

Quinn has made it clear he doesn’t want to see Chicago raise property taxes to close its pension funding gap, but Emanuel said Thursday he hopes to convince the governor to sign off on his pension reform plan anyway.

“I worked on solving this problem and coming up with an agreement with 31 different leaders of unions to secure our 61,000 people their retirement, but also to secure the city’s future,” Emanuel said. “I know the governor shares that sense of urgency.”

Emanuel pointed out he helped the governor pass controversial legislation to overhaul the state’s employee pension systems.

“I agreed and worked to help the governor pass the state pension plan to secure the retirement of their workers, but also to secure the state of Illinois’ future,” Emanuel said.

A downstate judge has put a temporary halt to that plan until he can rule whether it’s constitutional.

A spokesperson for the governor said the judge’s ruling was expected, and has no bearing on this year’s or next year’s budgets.

Last month, lawmakers approved a measure to help prop up the pension funds for city laborers and municipal workers.

Emanuel’s plan requires not only more money from the city, but from employees. Workers who contributed 8.5 percent of their paychecks now would see that amount increase to 11.5 percent by 2019 and stay there until the system has 90 percent of what it needs to cover promised benefits.

And workers would receive less. The annual cost-of-living adjustments would fall from 3 percent a year, compounded, to a straight benefit of half the rate of inflation, or 3 percent, whichever is less.

Originally, the legislation would have mandated a five-year, $50 million-a-year property tax hike in Chicago, but Emanuel agreed to remove that language from the legislation and instead seek the tax hike through the City Council’s home rule authority.