SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Legislature has approved a historic plan to eliminate the state's $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation.
The House voted 62-53 Tuesday in favor of the plan, which the Senate approved just minutes earlier. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it.
Lawmakers in the two Democrat-controlled chambers took up the plan after years of inaction on a problem that other states have addressed. It has damaged Illinois' credit rating and diverted key funds from schools and social service agencies.
Legislative leaders say the plan will save the state $160 billion over 30 years by cutting retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees.
Labor unions oppose the measure and say they plan to file a lawsuit arguing it's unconstitutional.
Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford responded to the reform legislation with the following statemet:
"The will of the General Assembly is the adoption of current pension reform legislation," said State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. "Litigation is inevitable, and I hope that the courts issue an expedited ruling as to the constitutionality of the legislation. The sooner the better, so we can move our great state forward."
Gov. Pat Quinn released the following statement:
"Since I took the oath of office, I've pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois. Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won. This landmark legislation is a bipartisan solution that squarely addresses the most difficult fiscal issue Illinois has ever confronted. This bill will ensure retirement security for those who have faithfully contributed to the pension systems, end the squeeze on critical education and healthcare services, and support economic growth. I applaud House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno for their leadership and good-faith negotiations. I thank Senator Kwame Raoul and members of the conference committee for their hard work over the past six months. I salute the members of the General Assembly who showed great political courage by voting yes for pension reform."
The bill is SB1
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)