Since the Illinois Supreme Court's 2015 decision tossing bipartisan pension reform, what can and should the legislature do to control pension costs, if anything?

Budget

First- educate public employees on the status of their pension fund and the likelihood the pension system is on the edge of collapsing. I favor a self-directed 401K type program.

1. Use deferred income annuities in defined contribution pension plan
2. Eliminate salary escalation to maximize pension income
3. Pension credits to a certain maximum income level (unless there's a move to defined contribution plan)

A promise made should be a promise kept. It is of the utmost importance that any pension reform protects the benefits of current and retired workers. Our state constitution and Supreme Court precedent are abundantly clear — we cannot reduce retirement benefits for workers. As it relates to current workers and retirees, any changes made must involve voluntary cooperation, such as a lump sum payment or transferal into a pension plan tier. For future workers, a new tier should be made with hybrid features that combines aspects of both defined benefit and contribution plans. Workers deserve retirement security and peace of mind, but at the same time, we must consider risk Illinois taxpayers assume with defined benefit plans.

The pension crisis is a looming problem in Illinois and yet no one is taking any action. The longer we wait on this issue, the more debt accrues. Pension reform is needed immediately. The legislature can start by providing a 401k or 403b defined contribution plan for our new state workers so that future pension liabilities are a known quantity. Additionally, legislators need to call into question so-called "Cadillac Pensions" for administrators approved by local school districts. My primary opponent has continually approved "Cadillac Pensions" at a time when taxpayers are being taxed at some of the highest rates in the nation. This amounts to multi-million dollar payouts that our hard working families are expected to cover. Finally, legislators need to limit the total number of pensions the public sector gives out to any one individual. People rely on their pensions and I am worried one day they will go to cash their checks and the money will not be there. I want to see reforms now so that this day never comes.

Allow individual state employees to voluntarily shift pension donations into self-managed plans.

First, it is necessary to point out that the pension crisis is due not to excessive benefits, but rather to the state's failure to pay its share into the system. For the past 70 years or so, the state has shorted the pension system by an average of about 30%. Had those payments been made is required, the pension system would be quite healthy today. To fix the system solely on the backs of the participants, who have made every payment required, would be unjust, and a breach of contract, properly prohibited by the Illinois Constitution and, I believe, the contracts clause of Article I of the US Constitution Thus, the only way to "control" costs would be to create new tiers for new hires that diminish their future benefits, as was done in 2010 and again last year. The issue with this is that it impairs the ability of the State to make quality hires, especially as downward salary pressures continue.

Illinois has the largest pension burden in the country and unfunded liabilities in their largest public funds increased a whopping 675% over the past twenty years or so. Studies have attributed the growth in this debt to insufficient employer contributions and poor investment returns and forecasting, combined with poor demographic and actuarial trends. In an attempt to adequately fund public pensions, the state borrowed money against pension contributions to fund services. While perhaps this was an admirable attempt at meeting its pension obligations, taxpayers were burdened with debt from the unfunded liabilities. However, other public pension systems have avoided Illinois' pension payment problems.

For decades in Illinois, gubernatorial administrations and legislatures have failed to adequately allocate enough money for the pensions promised to most state and university employees and teachers. As a result of this failure, spending on pensions is nearly 23% of the personal income taxes in the state, which many taxpayers resent. However, the state's Constitution prohibits the diminution or impairment of granted pension benefits. In the 2015 case, the court held that the Illinois pension law required that benefits promised to public employees had to be paid and that the funding of the state's share of the employees' pensions was the responsibility of the legislature. It also held that the pension problem was one of the legislature's making. The court faulted the legislature for allowing the 2011 temporary income tax hike, which raised the tax 1.25 percent to 5 percent to expire. Before this tax rate was discontinued, it funded the state's obligation to the pension fund. Allowing it to sunset cost the state billions of dollars in yearly revenues.

Illinois is currently in a 40-year pension amortization program adopted before the turn of the last century with bi-partisan support, but the General Assembly has repeatedly failed to meet its "continuing appropriation" requirements by granting itself "pension holidays" as part of their budget implementation bills. This has to stop. It has been suggested that the state must also amortize the unfunded liability into flat annual payments. New state employees have been offered alternative pension benefit plans already and reportedly, attempts in other states to transition employees to private retirement plans have resulted in reduced retirement investment income, sometimes up to a 50 percent. Adequately funding pensions, refinancing and restructuring debt and increasing state revenues, as opposed to controlling pension costs seems more prudent and realistic in Illinois.

Nothing. I feel that we must find another source of relief so that we can pay pension costs. One way to do that is to have...a progressive tax system. It's only fair to our residents that we find ways to pay their pension - the pension that they themselves paid 10% of their income into.

Nothing. I feel that we must find another source of relief so that we can pay pension costs. One way to do that is to have...a progressive tax system. It's only fair to our residents that we find ways to pay their pension - the pension that they themselves paid 10% of their income into.

Keep working to find a way to amend pensions that meets the "Benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired" portion of the Illinois State Constitution. And never again take a pension payment "holiday" by not making the pension payment from the state.

The court has made it clear that the General Assembly cannot take away something that is promised in the state constitution. Instead of forcibly trying to remove guarantees made to those in or near retirement, all parties can get into a room and find common ground. It could be higher pension contributions by employees or concessions in other areas from both the state and the unions that could help work toward a solution.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that pension benefits already earned cannot be "diminished or impaired". Though it's a nice thought, this is a formula for fiscal disaster and I fundamentally disagree with the ruling. The Illinois Constitution is not a suicide pact and the pension system being protected by this ruling and ruling class is unsustainable. Regardless, we need a system that rewards good work for deserving state workers, but treats taxpayers with fairness. For future workers, we need to move to a defined contribution plan. For current workers, we need to offer a defined contribution plan and be honest with them about the future of what they have been misled to believe are guaranteed benefits. We also need to reform automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) increases and put forth retirement ages that are fair to state workers, but in line with those of the taxpayers whose money supports them.

We should considering adopting 401K style pension plans as an opt-in option for existing employees as well as for new employees.

Lawmakers should allow voters to vote on pension changes to the Constitution. The General Assembly should also raise the retirement age for new hires to be in line with the age guidelines for social security. The state should also find ways to incentivize employees to move to a defined contribution plan.

One thing that needs to be done is to rapidly pay off the back log of payments due. There is no reason to be paying interest to large companies.

We need to offer all of our state employees the opportunity to enroll in a 401K plan. The annual 3% automatic COLA needs to be eliminated and the Governor should be given more reign to re-negotiate contracts with the unions.

The legislature must pass a new pension reform bill and have it tested in the court system. That pension reform bill would be to pass HB4207 which I am Chief House Sponsor. HB 4207 adopts the "consideration" model, envisioned by Senate President Cullerton and gives the state its best chance to find pension savings within the confines of the constitution. The legislation passed out of the House Pension Committee but was never allowed to receive a vote on the House floor.

First we need to stop accepting more workers into the current system. This can only be done through attrition and an acknowledgement that we cannot afford to put more people on the payroll with the commensurate legacy costs that will follow them.

I believe all new employees should be put into a defined contribution plan, while at the same time creating the necessary resources to fund existing pensioners.

The legislature can make paying the pensions a priority so that the principle gets paid down. The increased flat tax would create revenue to pay down the pension debt. We need to tighten our belts for the good of the state. The debt is manageable and can be paid, but only if we have leaders with the will to push for it. It won't get paid down by talking about it.

In the cases where the beneficiaries are not financially struggling, we could offer something along the lines of what John Adams proposed to entice the best people into government posts (instead of going into business). Adams believed that the honor and respect of the American people would make service worthwhile. What sort of honorific might appeal to Illinois men and women who are compensated beyond their needs? It may have been in Discourses on Davila that Adams suggested titles. The use of "Dr." , "Esq.", "Honorable" and such have value to those who use them. Lords, Ladies, Sirs, and Dames in Great Britain take pride in their earned or inherited titles. If Illinois makes these sufficiently scarce, they can be meaningful. They must have perks (like lifetime nontransferable free parking throughout Illinois) or other such benefits that enhance the quality of life for the people who freely release the state from its obligation or from part of its obligation.

There are numerous potential solutions to help solve our current pension dilemma. I support 401(k) style savings plans for all newly hired state employees. Additionally, we must move all elected officials' pension plans to defined contribution, which would set the tone for other public pensions to evaluate their own systems. I also believe that the State should heavily tax pension earnings over $100,000 per year, particularly when the recipient is double or triple dipping from various pension systems. While most public-sector employees worked hard to have a secure retirement, we simply cannot continue to ask hard working middle-class taxpayers to fund six-figure retirements for the wealthy.

New hires should have a defined contribution plan that is both fair for the state and for the employee.

There needs to be a complete overhaul of the pension system. Currently it is a broken system in which we are promising money to retirees that we cannot realistically pay out. I think that there needs to be consolidation of our many layers of unnecessary government. Consolidation of the many layers of government will eliminate some of the excess costs of future pensions. We should consolidate school districts, increase the retirement age, and put all new government employees in the SMRP.

We need to give the Governor all the tools he needs to bring pension costs down in his negotiations with the unions.

First, I am opposed to any reductions in pension benefits. Stabilizing the pension funds simply cannot be done on the backs of teachers, nurses, state employees that have been promised a level of benefits that they deserve. Second, we must change the way that we collect revenue - as mentioned a few times above, we need to aggressively pursue real and progressive revenue streams, and we must have laws in place with strong requirements for the state and the city to make required pension payments. I am open to the idea of changing the "ramp" for the state pension system, thereby leveling out the state pension payments over a longer period of time. But the most obvious answer is that we need more revenue - through progressive tax structures - to make these payments.

Pension obligations need to be looked at and analyzed within three different perspectives. The first is with the pension payments being paid out now, second are the pensions that are accruing, and third are those that are not yet accrued by future new workers.

Based on the case referenced in the question and the language of Section 5, Article XIII of the current Illinois Constitution of 1970, providing that "the benefits of [membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, government or agency thereof] shall not be diminished or impaired," it appears the most significant changes can be made to the third category in relation to future new workers only and have a prospective effect.

This solution will take a long time, but it will work and does not run afoul of the Illinois Constitution. We can use our past mistakes to consider and use modern technology, life expectancy, fair rules and structure to restrict double dipping, and even creating a pension maximum to rein in costs on the back end. The costs we are dealing with the first two perspectives require more dynamic solutions. We can cut costs without diminishing benefits by avoiding funding present obligations through debt financing.

As much as feasible, we need to fund these obligations with cash to avoid drowning in debt related costs. Also, without running afoul of the Illinois Constitution, it may be possible to provide pension beneficiaries an option for some type of consideration and incentive to change their pension plan, but it could not be mandatory, lest it be challenged as an "impairment" to one's pension.

Finally, as outlined above, there are significant savings to be had through smarter investment management of the pension funds. The legislature can control the cost of funding its pension obligations by making sure public money is being invested and managed appropriately.

I would encourage an open bidding process for fund administration to secure the lowest possible management and advisory fees, and ensure the money is put in smart investment positions relative to both risk and cost.

Amend the State Constitution portion which the Court has interpreted as limiting the Legislatures ability to make modifications. The amendment must allow the constitutionality of proposals similar to the bipartisan reform previously passed and other potential revisions. Further, I would be open to allowing new employees to move to a Self-Managed Plan similar to those utilized by major Illinois Corporations and recently enacted for the U.S. Military

We need to fully fund the pension systems. It is important to have pensions for state employees, and we must have the ability to pay for it. I support a graduated income tax and the "LaSalle Street" tax to generate much-needed revenue in our state without making additional cuts. We should not re-amortize the current debt, but we need to have a dedicated source of revenue for pension payments that cannot be touched by future General Assemblies.

The state should reamortize its pension debt in a fashion like that proposed by the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability.

Benefits are not the problem with pension costs; the issue is a combination of the payment system established in 1994 and the failure to fully fund the pension some years. When a balloon payment on a mortgagee comes due, the mortgagee refinances the debt. Like a mortgage, refinancing the pension debt at a flat rate over 45 years would save the state millions of dollars. Yes, refinancing would be at a higher rate than we're currently paying, but it would be less expensive in the long run. It's important to remember, and for the public to understand, that a significant portion of the pension costs are in lieu of paying the 7.5 percent Social Security and Medicare payment. Not counting repayment of the debt, the pension actually costs the state less than an employer paying social security and contributing to a pension plan alternative (e.g., a 401k match). Therefore, any legislative change needs to carefully account for this in order to avoid creating a new set of problems.

Pay it! Then start over with a more affordable plan. The 401K plans gets what the market is paying.

First and foremost I think I can say this. I would cut every pension by 25% and cut every political position by 50%. I would bring in half pay for state senate and legislation for no benefits or pensions as these are part time positions and most elected have other income. I would again ask the people of my district as what those people want is the answer I would live by.

Pay it! Then start over with a more affordable plan. The 401K plans gets what the market is paying.

The state legislature should allow the citizens to decide on a change to the state constitution related to pension reform and put it on the ballot. Also, to the extent possible, the legislature should raise the age of pension eligibility annually for new hires, to an actuarially-determined level, that mimics social security ages.

We need to pursue bipartisan legislation that addresses our pension costs and looks at a model where new state workers are put into a plan where they can choose their benefits. However, we cannot reduce the benefits of our current and retired workers who rely on their pensions as their sole source of retirement income. This problem should not be solved at the expense of hard working people who made their life decisions based on those promises from our government. We should always be working in a bipartisan way to come up with new solutions for tackling our pension debt.

As I have made clear above I view the state pension problem as being one that is so serious that it threatens our continued ability to provide government. It was a shame that our state lost a couple of years by not trying to meet this problem head-on, and instead trying to enact SB1. The Supreme Court got the issue completely right in their decision in In Re Pension Reform Litigation, 2015 IL 118585, where they invalidated that statute as being unconstitutional. The state constitution provides that a state pension is a contract and that "the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired". We may not like that it says that, and it certainly seems incongruous that benefits can be increased and still be protected, but they can never be decreased. But until we amend the constitution in that regard it is absolutely unconstitutional to change the pension deal that was given to prior employees. Once they agree to start working under those terms they are protected.

There are two ways that the pension deals are created: by the Governor and by the Legislature. The Governor bears the lion share of the responsibility as it is their administration that negotiates contracts with the public service unions. Once the contract is executed it is binding, and it is up to the Legislature to fund it. Due to the proven negative effects of outside money and influence in politics the Governor can sometimes be influenced into providing contractual terms that benefit both the unions and the Governor (in terms of assisting with reelection), but are not fair deals to the people of IL. This has to stop. My proposal in this regard is to enact legislation that would provide that any future public service union contracts require approval by the legislature. This will provide a useful check and balance and bring the issue into the light of day. This has been enacted in some other states, and is sorely needed here.

I mentioned above that the Legislature also creates part of our pension problem in that essentially every year a new pension bill is quietly passed that either enhances pension benefits or makes minor, often technical, changes in administration. Some of the changes that have been made are embarrassing. One example was in 2001 when two newly elected legislators (one is still serving) that had both been policeman sponsored legislation that passed that allowed them to count their time in Springfield both toward their legislative and police pensions. Amazing! This kind of thing must stop. I note that my opponent in this primary is the Co- Chair of the Senate Committee on State and Pension Fund Investment, and when there used to be a Subcommittee on Pension Benefit Enhancements she served as its Chairman (instead of on the Committee for Pension Reform). She also voted for SB1 even though she emailed her constituents to state that she believed it was unconstitutional!

The state legislature should allow the citizens to decide on a change to the state constitution related to pension reform and put it on the ballot. Also, to the extent possible, the legislature should raise the age of pension eligibility annually for new hires, to an actuarially-determined level, that mimics social security ages.

Going forward, all new employees must be offered only defined contribution, or 401K-style retirement plan. The "Tier III" plan passed in the FY18 BIMP bill is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. The state will, in the short-term, have to incrementally reduce the overall costs where possible. Unfortunately, given the court's ruling on SB1, it is unlikely that any comprehensive reform plan that alters benefits for existing workers, especially that introduced by Senate President Cullerton, will be held as constitutional.

As I have made clear above I view the state pension problem as being one that is so serious that it threatens our continued ability to provide government. It was a shame that our state lost a couple of years by not trying to meet this problem head-on, and instead trying to enact SB1. The Supreme Court got the issue completely right in their decision in In Re Pension Reform Litigation, 2015 IL 118585, where they invalidated that statute as being unconstitutional. The state constitution provides that a state pension is a contract and that "the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired". We may not like that it says that, and it certainly seems incongruous that benefits can be increased and still be protected, but they can never be decreased. But until we amend the constitution in that regard it is absolutely unconstitutional to change the pension deal that was given to prior employees. Once they agree to start working under those terms they are protected.

There are two ways that the pension deals are created: by the Governor and by the Legislature. The Governor bears the lion share of the responsibility as it is their administration that negotiates contracts with the public service unions. Once the contract is executed it is binding, and it is up to the Legislature to fund it. Due to the proven negative effects of outside money and influence in politics the Governor can sometimes be influenced into providing contractual terms that benefit both the unions and the Governor (in terms of assisting with reelection), but are not fair deals to the people of IL. This has to stop. My proposal in this regard is to enact legislation that would provide that any future public service union contracts require approval by the legislature. This will provide a useful check and balance and bring the issue into the light of day. This has been enacted in some other states, and is sorely needed here.

I mentioned above that the Legislature also creates part of our pension problem in that essentially every year a new pension bill is quietly passed that either enhances pension benefits or makes minor, often technical, changes in administration. Some of the changes that have been made are embarrassing. One example was in 2001 when two newly elected legislators (one is still serving) that had both been policeman sponsored legislation that passed that allowed them to count their time in Springfield both toward their legislative and police pensions. Amazing! This kind of thing must stop. I note that my opponent in this primary is the Co- Chair of the Senate Committee on State and Pension Fund Investment, and when there used to be a Subcommittee on Pension Benefit Enhancements she served as its Chairman (instead of on the Committee for Pension Reform). She also voted for SB1 even though she emailed her constituents to state that she believed it was unconstitutional!

Going forward, all new employees must be offered only defined contribution, or 401K-style retirement plan. The "Tier III" plan passed in the FY18 BIMP bill is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. The state will, in the short-term, have to incrementally reduce the overall costs where possible. Unfortunately, given the court's ruling on SB1, it is unlikely that any comprehensive reform plan that alters benefits for existing workers, especially that introduced by Senate President Cullerton, will be held as constitutional.

The state pension system is an important component in attracting and keeping talented people We need to start properly funding the pension system by making the required pension payments. One way to control pension costs is to expand the application of the ACA in Illinois with a public option which will control health care costs under the pension.

I believe that resolving our pension funding shortfall is one of the critical issues facing our state and must be resolved for Illinois to balance its budgets long term. It is important that we work together in a bipartisan effort to once and for all tackle our pension issues. We must be clear in recognizing that Illinois has a pension debt problem and not necessarily a pension benefits problem as it is often characterized. The actual cost of funding our pensions is not what is causing this shortfall. Years of pension holidays and borrowing because of a refusal to raise adequate revenues are the real cause of our pension crisis and we need solutions that address this problem head on. Any solutions must be focused on ways to significantly pay down this debt in a responsible manner and without impacting the vital services and programs our state has an obligation to provide.

Currently, we pay three times more toward pension debt (including interest) than we pay each year into the pension system itself. I support the re-amortization of pension liabilities to shift the way we pay pension debt from a graduated payment to a flat annual payment. This means we must raise adequate revenues on the front end while receiving substantial savings long term. Proposals to cut pensions don't get at the real cause of the crisis — the failure to make timely and adequate payments by raising adequate revenue, and failing to create a plan that responsibly pays off the resulting debt.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled three times that the State should keep its promise to pay pensions to workers who paid into the system. We have to address the pension debt honestly, and that means coming up with a workable plan to pay down the debt we have been accumulating since World War I by not making the required payments.

A responsible plan would include a dedicated funding source, reamortization of the debt over a 30 or 40 year period and a level dollar payment plan rather than a "ramp to the ARC." In other words, it would look much like a conventional mortgage. In the past, the ramp to the ARC required a payment that increased each year, putting off the payments to the future with each year's payment increasing. Of course, because each year requires a higher payment, the pension debt continues to squeeze budgets year after year. If we had a dedicated funding source with a level dollar payment, this squeeze would not happen. It may require some short term pain, but long term a real solution to our pension debt frees the state to concentrate on its other priorities.

Illinois made a promise to its workers to compensate their hard work with a livable pension, and failed to do that. Instead, government misused pension benefits, leaving people whom had worked arduously for their hard-earned benefits with nothing. Illinois needs a responsible pension system that is protected from ever being used as a credit card again. We have to go to the workers and win their trust to promote reforms. And, we have to give something in exchange for it, just like any bargain requires. We cannot expect promises to be made to workers, promises revoked, and then expect a robust, motivated work force. We also have to be realistic that business accounting principles don't apply to governments and that the ramp we are currently on can be adjusted to provide budgetary relief to Illinois while we work on reforms.

As a legal matter, the Supreme Court of Illinois has spoken. Pursuant to our state's pension protection clause which states that pension contracts "shall be an enforceable contractual relationship" and which provides that the benefits of those contracts "shall not be diminished or impaired" we are on the hook for those contracts entered into by the state with their public-sector workers. It's a debt incurred that is owed, period.

However, I do think steps can be taken to control pension costs related to the current debt obligation. I support re-amortizing Illinois' pension debt. Re-amortizing the pension debt would make the debt payments manageable and predictable. It would require a level, predictable dollar amount paid year over year which would, due to inflation adjustments, actually become a declining financial obligation as a line item year over year of the payment plan. Re-amortization would put Illinois on a path to fiscal stability. That stability and predictability is something that both Illinois residents and businesses would find appealing and comforting and would go a long way in revitalizing our economy and putting the faith of the people back in their government.

Illinois made a promise to its workers to compensate their hard work with a livable pension, and failed to do that. Instead, government misused pension benefits, leaving people whom had worked arduously for their hard-earned benefits with nothing. Illinois needs a responsible pension system that is protected from ever being used as a credit card again. We have to go to the workers and win their trust to promote reforms. And, we have to give something in exchange for it, just like any bargain requires. We cannot expect promises to be made to workers, promises revoked, and then expect a robust, motivated work force. We also have to be realistic that business accounting principles don't apply to governments and that the ramp we are currently on can be adjusted to provide budgetary relief to Illinois while we work on reforms.

The Illinois legislature has to find a way to pay its bills, and to do it on time. Years of kicking the can down the road has jeopardized our ability to support hard-working teachers and other service teams when they have spent their careers working in our schools and supporting elders, state institutions and the vulnerable across our communities. Generating new revenue through a graduated tax and exploring other revenue programs in neighboring states will help us find a path to fiscal stability.

We need to raise the revenues to keep the promises that have been made to current pension holders. As the government brings in new employees they should be put under a defined contribution plan.

Those that have committed their lives to the state should absolutely receive the pensions they were promised. Legislatures must fight to protect pensions, ensuring that the budget allocates appropriate funding for pension costs.

The Illinois legislature has to find a way to pay its bills, and to do it on time. Years of kicking the can down the road has jeopardized our ability to support hard-working teachers and other service teams when they have spent their careers working in our schools and supporting elders, state institutions and the vulnerable across our communities. Generating new revenue through a graduated tax and exploring other revenue programs in neighboring states will help us find a path to fiscal stability.

We need to raise the revenues to keep the promises that have been made to current pension holders. As the government brings in new employees they should be put under a defined contribution plan.

Those that have committed their lives to the state should absolutely receive the pensions they were promised. Legislatures must fight to protect pensions, ensuring that the budget allocates appropriate funding for pension costs.

Candidate did not respond

The 2015 Supreme Court decision severely restricted our legislative options. The broad nature of the ruling solidified the notion that pensions are guarantees, plain and simple. As with during the 2014 discussions, I remain open-minded about legislative means to control past pension costs. But in the end, the Supreme Court made it clear that there isn't much we can constitutionally do besides pay what we owe.

Well I think my idea of curtailing pension abuse and double dipping is a start by having a system that is reformed. Aside from that we need to think about how to control pension costs for new state workers so that at the very least we would have more long-term stability as these workers filter through the system over time.

Well I think my idea of curtailing pension abuse and double dipping is a start by having a system that is reformed. Aside from that we need to think about how to control pension costs for new state workers so that at the very least we would have more long-term stability as these workers filter through the system over time.

I beleive the state needs more revenue to start paying the pensions. They have been unpaid for far too long.

First and foremost, the state should move all new hires to a defined contribution plan, one that models after private sector retirement plans and other states that have successfully tackled pension reform. Additionally, the state should encourage workers to take lump sum buyouts of their pension plans, or encourage them to move into a new tier of the pension plan. Such a "consideration" model has been supported by both sides of the aisle, including Governor Rauner and Senate President Cullerton. As a result of previous Supreme Court rulings on previous pension reform cases, any such changes to the pension plan must be voluntary, or else they too will be overruled. Time is of the essence, as our unfunded pension liabilities continue to skyrocket.

Lawmakers in Illinois failed to adequately contribute to pension funds for many decades. Teachers and other workers paid their fair shares into their retirement and must receive what they are owed. This is not an unmanageable problem. There are entire nations with a GDP similar to Illinois, and they managed to fix their deficits after such events as the 2008 crash. Illinois is a wealthy, strong state. We can fix this.

The Pension Protection Clause cannot be violated. That is the primary issue in the ruling that I agree with. Our employees have worked too hard for that promise of COLAs to be terminated. Gov. Quinn took a big chance advocating for that and once employee unions sued, it was a rightful end to this issue. That being said, the costs carried with this are extremely high and further complicate the pension situation. This is a self-inflicted wound that our State has created with the only way to solve it is to generate more revenues. The IL Supreme Court has ruled and as such, there isn't much if anything that can be done besides responsible cuts elsewhere and new revenues.

The Pension Protection Clause cannot be violated. That is the primary issue in the ruling that I agree with. Our employees have worked too hard for that promise of COLAs to be terminated. Gov. Quinn took a big chance advocating for that and once employee unions sued, it was a rightful end to this issue. That being said, the costs carried with this are extremely high and further complicate the pension situation. This is a self-inflicted wound that our State has created with the only way to solve it is to generate more revenues. The IL Supreme Court has ruled and as such, there isn't much if anything that can be done besides responsible cuts elsewhere and new revenues.

Pension reform is not necessary if our government consistently stay out of taking the money our of the pension system. The pensions will balance themselves if we stop touching it.

Pension reform is not necessary if our government consistently stay out of taking the money our of the pension system. The pensions will balance themselves if we stop touching it.

While it will lead to difficulty in the short term, the best way to get pension costs under control is to stop the insidious practice of taking "pension holidays" and prioritizing current payments of pension obligations moving forward. It is not only irresponsible to allow mounting debt, it is unconscionable to make future generations pay for this obligation. Moving future state employees to defined contribution plans will also help.

The legislature should do what is necessary to fulfill the obligations that have been bargained for and earned by public sector employees. Re-amortization of the state's pension debt is a worthwhile discussion as it is constitutionally sound. It arguably prevents Illinois from having to cut core services drastically. However, new and sustainable sources of revenue must be identified so that the state can make the level-dollar annual payment.

First, the state should stop borrowing money against contributions and institute pay as you go rules to control costs. The goal of the legislature is to ensure that the pension fund is financially self-sustaining

I think the first plan of action is to get a realistic estimate of the amount of the deficit in the pension plan. As I stated before I think that deficit is grossly underestimated. Then we must sit with the unions and really lay out future projections. We must cap end of career increases which increase pension payments.

With the roll-out and pending implementation of tier 3 for new employees, the projected savings are there — modest, but there. In conjunction with re-amortizing liabilities, which I preliminarily support as a means to move closer to solvency, I think we are on the right track towards modulating costs year-to-year. What Illinois really needs, however, are progressive revenues with which to pay down debt more quickly and to be able to create balanced budgets.

First, I think it is important to protect those individuals who have earned pensions and are now depending on them for financial survival. We must not throw seniors into chaos or have them live with the fear of losing what by law has been earned. During their careers they without choice paid into a system that promised a pension upon their reaching the retirement qualifications. The state's promise to them should be a certainty. There are, however measures that should be taken.

The legislature should reject any legislation that enhances the pensions of any person(s).
The legislature should as much as possible restrain the growth of state government. The number of state employees directly effects the growth in pension liability.
The legislature should work with the governor to where appropriate outsource (privatize) functions to reduce the number of state employees and the related health care cost and pension liability.
New state workers should be moved into defined contribution plans.
The legislature should explore with the governor the feasibility of offering defined contribution conversion plans to any willing current state worker in place of the defined benefit plans they now have.

Illinois courts have made clear that our pension obligations are protected both the Illinois constitution and traditional notions of contract law. The legislature has already addressed the issue of pensions going forward when it adopted Tier II in 2011 and Tier III pension reform for SURS, TRS, and SERS this summer. Tier III offers a hybrid of defined benefit and contribution but both have extremely modest costs compared to the original state pension plan, now known as Tier I.
As for the current pension obligations, the legislature can authorize re-amortization of Illinois' pension debt, although the re-amortization schedule must use sound actuarial analysis. Re-amortization of the debt will allow the state to responsibly meet its pension obligation to its retirees while maintaining the ability to provide other core services. I also support seeking other revenue sources, e.g. a tax on financial transactions, to build the capital base of the pension funds.

Illinois courts have made clear that our pension obligations are protected both the Illinois constitution and traditional notions of contract law. The legislature has already addressed the issue of pensions going forward when it adopted Tier II in 2011 and Tier III pension reform for SURS, TRS, and SERS this summer. Tier III offers a hybrid of defined benefit and contribution but both have extremely modest costs compared to the original state pension plan, now known as Tier I.
As for the current pension obligations, the legislature can authorize re-amortization of Illinois' pension debt, although the re-amortization schedule must use sound actuarial analysis. Re-amortization of the debt will allow the state to responsibly meet its pension obligation to its retirees while maintaining the ability to provide other core services. I also support seeking other revenue sources, e.g. a tax on financial transactions, to build the capital base of the pension funds.

The Supreme Court's ruling would limit many of the proposals for reform that have been proposed. As a first step to stabilizing the pension system, the state must make its obligated pension payments on time and in full.

The Supreme Court's ruling would limit many of the proposals for reform that have been proposed. As a first step to stabilizing the pension system, the state must make its obligated pension payments on time and in full.

The pension crisis is our main budget and financial problem in Illinois. The workers have paid their portion into the pensions and our state grossly erred and neglected to pay their portion. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our hardest working people and slash their earnings and pensions to fix our issues. We need to negotiate a direction that allows for our workers to confidently afford their lives and futures. Union leaders need to be at the table during these crucial negotiations, and we must find common ground that allows our state to rise out of debt while meeting the needs of our workers.

The pension crisis is our main budget and financial problem in Illinois. The workers have paid their portion into the pensions and our state grossly erred and neglected to pay their portion. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our hardest working people and slash their earnings and pensions to fix our issues. We need to negotiate a direction that allows for our workers to confidently afford their lives and futures. Union leaders need to be at the table during these crucial negotiations, and we must find common ground that allows our state to rise out of debt while meeting the needs of our workers.

Every new hire should be tied to a defined contribution plan- not the out of control existing plans we currently have. We should not allow local school districts to make unreasonable contracts that the state must pay off. No oversight- no deal. We should also replace Madigan and Durkin as they have no idea how to manage a budget.

Every new hire should be tied to a defined contribution plan- not the out of control existing plans we currently have. We should not allow local school districts to make unreasonable contracts that the state must pay off. No oversight- no deal. We should also replace Madigan and Durkin as they have no idea how to manage a budget.

The Supreme Court's decision was clear. We cannot legally diminish benefits for current employees or retirees. I believe the best path to reaching agreement on ways to address pension costs over time is to bring all the parties together, which is the approach we took when addressing our deficits locally in District 65. Together, the parties can explore options such as voluntary buyouts for defined benefit employees such that a portion of the expected value of the benefit is accepted today and the employee takes control over the funds and its investment. The most critical aspects of the dialogue needs to be around fairness to employees and ensuring higher predictability that the benefit will actually be there when collected.

The Supreme Court's decision was clear. We cannot legally diminish benefits for current employees or retirees. I believe the best path to reaching agreement on ways to address pension costs over time is to bring all the parties together, which is the approach we took when addressing our deficits locally in District 65. Together, the parties can explore options such as voluntary buyouts for defined benefit employees such that a portion of the expected value of the benefit is accepted today and the employee takes control over the funds and its investment. The most critical aspects of the dialogue needs to be around fairness to employees and ensuring higher predictability that the benefit will actually be there when collected.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the legislature cannot make unilateral changes that diminish pension benefits. Since the state cannot relieve itself of this debt, we should be looking for ways to manage the debt that save the state money. I am proposing a bill this year that will allow the state to issue bonds to pay down the pension debt. The state would then be required to make annual payments on the bonds, but since the interest rate on these bonds would be lower than the cost of the interest that accrues on the unfunded liability, the state would save money over the current plan of paying according to an actuarial ramp. Models that have been run by a professional actuary indicate savings to the state would range from $50 to $90 billion dollars over the course of the next 27 years.

Additionally, I am filing a bill that would permit the state pension systems to offer a discounted present cash value buyout of the COLA for Tier 1 retirees and employees. This would be a voluntary option for the employee, If they chose to exercise this option, the employee would give up their Tier 1 COLA (3% compounding) and in exchange would receive the lower Tier 2 COLA (3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, on a SIMPLE basis). In exchange, the system would calculate the difference in value between these two COLAs and pay the employee an amount equal to 70% of the value.

Finally, I will seek to consolidate downstate police and fire pensions into a single fund. This will allow the funds to be combined for the purposes of leveraging better investments and will cut down on administrative expenses.

How can Illinois politicians ask working families to come to the table to renegotiate their pensions when they are collecting hefty pensions for what is essentially considered a part-time job? The system needs to be reformed, but it needs to be reformed in the right places. For example, a State Representative becomes eligible for pension benefits after just two 2-year terms in office. After four years in office the amount of time it takes to become vested a current legislator becomes eligible to receive a pension of 12 percent of his/her salary, along with 3 percent increases if retiring after age 60. That pension payout spikes to 27 percent of salary after 8 years of in office, 45 percent after 12 years of service and finally the maximum 85 percent after 20 years. Most if not all of them have full-time jobs and can invest as they wish to plan for their retirement. The complete elimination of pensions for elected officials must be the first step toward a good faith negotiation to reform the system. Elected officials should not be retiring on the backs of taxpayers and should not collect a pension at all. If elected, I will not accept a pension for the office of State Representative. Pension reform needs to start with our elected officials. Only then can we expect working families come to the table.

The legislature should consider new versions of pension reform that allow state employees to voluntarily opt into new pension plans, either through the proposed "consideration" model or through moving into a new tiered plan. I believe new state government hires should be moved into a defined contribution plan going forward.

How can Illinois politicians ask working families to come to the table to renegotiate their pensions when they are collecting hefty pensions for what is essentially considered a part-time job? The system needs to be reformed, but it needs to be reformed in the right places. For example, a State Representative becomes eligible for pension benefits after just two 2-year terms in office. After four years in office the amount of time it takes to become vested a current legislator becomes eligible to receive a pension of 12 percent of his/her salary, along with 3 percent increases if retiring after age 60. That pension payout spikes to 27 percent of salary after 8 years of in office, 45 percent after 12 years of service and finally the maximum 85 percent after 20 years. Most if not all of them have full-time jobs and can invest as they wish to plan for their retirement. The complete elimination of pensions for elected officials must be the first step toward a good faith negotiation to reform the system. Elected officials should not be retiring on the backs of taxpayers and should not collect a pension at all. If elected, I will not accept a pension for the office of State Representative. Pension reform needs to start with our elected officials. Only then can we expect working families come to the table.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the legislature cannot make unilateral changes that diminish pension benefits. Since the state cannot relieve itself of this debt, we should be looking for ways to manage the debt that save the state money. I am proposing a bill this year that will allow the state to issue bonds to pay down the pension debt. The state would then be required to make annual payments on the bonds, but since the interest rate on these bonds would be lower than the cost of the interest that accrues on the unfunded liability, the state would save money over the current plan of paying according to an actuarial ramp. Models that have been run by a professional actuary indicate savings to the state would range from $50 to $90 billion dollars over the course of the next 27 years.

Additionally, I am filing a bill that would permit the state pension systems to offer a discounted present cash value buyout of the COLA for Tier 1 retirees and employees. This would be a voluntary option for the employee, If they chose to exercise this option, the employee would give up their Tier 1 COLA (3% compounding) and in exchange would receive the lower Tier 2 COLA (3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, on a SIMPLE basis). In exchange, the system would calculate the difference in value between these two COLAs and pay the employee an amount equal to 70% of the value.

Finally, I will seek to consolidate downstate police and fire pensions into a single fund. This will allow the funds to be combined for the purposes of leveraging better investments and will cut down on administrative expenses.

Reform the pension system in a fair way. Go to a 401 K style plan where possible and with all new hires. Change the constitution or the Illinois Supreme Court Justices.

The legislature should consider new versions of pension reform that allow state employees to voluntarily opt into new pension plans, either through the proposed "consideration" model or through moving into a new tiered plan. I believe new state government hires should be moved into a defined contribution plan going forward.

Reform the pension system in a fair way. Go to a 401 K style plan where possible and with all new hires. Change the constitution or the Illinois Supreme Court Justices.

The State has over $120 BILLION unfunded pension liability! Ignoring it won't make it go away.While the employees have done nothing wrong in receiving those benefits, previous politicians have made promises the state can not sustain. I do believe a 401(k) style plan and giving existing workers the option to have their own self manage accounts is a big first step. We need to look at a Constitutional Amendment allowing a reform of pension benefits going forward that does not diminish benefits already earned.

Move new state workers into a defined contribution plan. It would be unethical to alter the contracts that dictate benefits for current state workers, but a defined contribution plan for new hires would eventually eliminate the growing problem.

The Illinois Supreme Court tossed aside SB1 a bipartisan pension reform law, making it difficult to control pension cost. Giving employees choices that would not upset the benefits they already earned is the roadway I would like to follow. Tier 2 (reduced benefit levels for new employees) and Tier 3 (hybrid 401k system) a consideration model allowing employees to keep current benefits but not include future raise in their pensions would help reduce liabilities.

The State has over $120 BILLION unfunded pension liability! Ignoring it won't make it go away.While the employees have done nothing wrong in receiving those benefits, previous politicians have made promises the state can not sustain. I do believe a 401(k) style plan and giving existing workers the option to have their own self manage accounts is a big first step. We need to look at a Constitutional Amendment allowing a reform of pension benefits going forward that does not diminish benefits already earned.

The Illinois Supreme Court tossed aside SB1 a bipartisan pension reform law, making it difficult to control pension cost. Giving employees choices that would not upset the benefits they already earned is the roadway I would like to follow. Tier 2 (reduced benefit levels for new employees) and Tier 3 (hybrid 401k system) a consideration model allowing employees to keep current benefits but not include future raise in their pensions would help reduce liabilities.

Move new state workers into a defined contribution plan. It would be unethical to alter the contracts that dictate benefits for current state workers, but a defined contribution plan for new hires would eventually eliminate the growing problem.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the bipartisan pension reform law as unconstitutional. There is no way this path can continue where plans continue to be unfunded. Residents I have talked to are interested in protecting the benefits already earned by retirees, and addressing the issue moving forward to reduce this long term debt on future generations. One method would be to give employees choices while not diminishing benefits already earned. I believe we can look at examples of other states with similar pension funding problems (although Illinois is certainly the highest) including how Michigan enacted hybrid defined contribution plans giving individuals control while offering secure retirements. Also, the previously discussed consideration model could be evaluated by both parties which secures earned benefits but foregoes future raises in pension to help reduce this long term trending liability.

Pensions: Representative Batinick has introduced a few variations of a pension buyout. It is clearly constitutional because it is OPTIONAL. It allows individuals in the pension system to exchange a benefit for a lump sum value that would be rolled into a retirement account tax-free. For example, a person who is set to earn a $60,000 / year pension at retirement has a net-present value cost to the state of about $1M. He could exchange that for a $30,000 / year pension and a $500,000 accelerated payment minus a small discount to the state. That discount would be the savings. We could also offer optional buyouts to move current employees into defined contribution plans, and even offer buyout for benefits like the 3% COLA. COGFA estimates show that this could save billions. With pension costs being about 25% of our budget and increasing, this is an area that desperately needs addressing.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the bipartisan pension reform law as unconstitutional. There is no way this path can continue where plans continue to be unfunded. Residents I have talked to are interested in protecting the benefits already earned by retirees, and addressing the issue moving forward to reduce this long term debt on future generations. One method would be to give employees choices while not diminishing benefits already earned. I believe we can look at examples of other states with similar pension funding problems (although Illinois is certainly the highest) including how Michigan enacted hybrid defined contribution plans giving individuals control while offering secure retirements. Also, the previously discussed consideration model could be evaluated by both parties which secures earned benefits but foregoes future raises in pension to help reduce this long term trending liability.

Pensions: Representative Batinick has introduced a few variations of a pension buyout. It is clearly constitutional because it is OPTIONAL. It allows individuals in the pension system to exchange a benefit for a lump sum value that would be rolled into a retirement account tax-free. For example, a person who is set to earn a $60,000 / year pension at retirement has a net-present value cost to the state of about $1M. He could exchange that for a $30,000 / year pension and a $500,000 accelerated payment minus a small discount to the state. That discount would be the savings. We could also offer optional buyouts to move current employees into defined contribution plans, and even offer buyout for benefits like the 3% COLA. COGFA estimates show that this could save billions. With pension costs being about 25% of our budget and increasing, this is an area that desperately needs addressing.

Move from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, e.g., 401k style.

I don't believe in reducing the pension benefits for workers because the Constitution stipulates that benefits cannot be "diminished or impaired" so going forward the legislature needs to use the Supreme Courts ruling as a guideline as they evaluate reform to the pension system.

Move from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, e.g., 401k style.

New employees should move to a 401(K) style plan. Current employees, to the extent possible should be transitioned to a 401(K) style plan that will help cap benefits in the future.

I support re-amortizing the pension debt. I will work with fellow lawmakers to develop an appropriate repayment schedule and make sure that payment for the pension debt is legally enforceable. Re-amortization would allow Illinois to catch up on paying off its pension debt by 2045.

I support re-amortizing the pension debt. I will work with fellow lawmakers to develop an appropriate repayment schedule and make sure that payment for the pension debt is legally enforceable. Re-amortization would allow Illinois to catch up on paying off its pension debt by 2045.

I don't believe in reducing the pension benefits for workers because the Constitution stipulates that benefits cannot be "diminished or impaired" so going forward the legislature needs to use the Supreme Courts ruling as a guideline as they evaluate reform to the pension system.

New employees should move to a 401(K) style plan. Current employees, to the extent possible should be transitioned to a 401(K) style plan that will help cap benefits in the future.

The underlying principle for our approach to pensions should be to create a system that is fair. We want a pension system that rewards state employees for their hard work, but mirrors what individuals in the private sector have. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that we need to keep the promises made to state workers. However, we need to look at pension retirement plans moving forward. I support reforms that move government employees to a 401(k) style retirement plan for future work. I will work with legislators to rein in unfair pension benefits using whatever tools we can: reducing COLAs, increasing retirement ages, changing benefits for new employees and exploring altering benefits for work not yet completed.

The underlying principle for our approach to pensions should be to create a system that is fair. We want a pension system that rewards state employees for their hard work, but mirrors what individuals in the private sector have. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that we need to keep the promises made to state workers. However, we need to look at pension retirement plans moving forward. I support reforms that move government employees to a 401(k) style retirement plan for future work. I will work with legislators to rein in unfair pension benefits using whatever tools we can: reducing COLAs, increasing retirement ages, changing benefits for new employees and exploring altering benefits for work not yet completed.

The pension debt will need to be re-amortized. I support the Mortire plan which in layman's terms refinances 90% of the 130 billion dollars owed by the State. The refinance is a 44 year loan to pay down the state's unfunded pension liability. The state also has to pay the yearly amount due to the pension fund in order for the fund to remain solvent.

Pension reform includes two parts: a) Reduce our unfunded liability for our current pension system: I believe that we should re-amortize our pension debt over the next 50 years to get it somewhere between 80-100% funded. Paying a level amount would reduce future spikes in payments and spreading out the payments over a longer period of time (currently set to end in 2045) would reduce the amount paid annually. We should also make it mandatory that pensions payments are paid in full each year. b) Creating a sound retirement system for the future. All options should be on the table including traditional pensions and 401K style plans. I am hopeful that the Tier III pension system (that passed his summer) can be a starting point to constructing a program that offers a stable and secure income for retirees, and a more affordable model for state government.