Illinois Lawmakers Override Veto of Chicago Pension Break

  • Senate, House reject Governor Rauner’s veto of pension ramp
  • Override allows Chicago to avoid stepped up pension payments

Illinois lawmakers overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a law that gives Chicago a partial break on its pension payments to police and fire retirement funds.

The House followed the Senate’s vote Monday to nix the veto. Rauner, a first-term Republican locked in a record budget impasse with Democrats who lead the legislature, vetoed the bill on Friday. The law gives Chicago 40 years instead of 25 to get its public-safety pensions to 90 percent funded and reduces this year’s required contribution to the public safety pensions by $220 million. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had slammed Rauner’s veto, saying it would force a property tax increase.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers of Chicago to say we’re going to double your property tax bill this year,” Representative Barbara Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, said before the House voted to override the veto. The bill “is a responsible approach to funding pension problems.”

Chicago is caught in the partisan standoff between Rauner and legislative Democrats. Illinois hasn’t had a budget for 11 months. There are little signs of progress on reaching a compromise by the end of the regular legislative session on Tuesday. Rauner wants any solution to include some of his agenda items like changes to workers compensation costs, limits on unions and property tax relief. These proposals have encountered resistance from Democrats.

On Sunday, Rauner described the bill he vetoed as “bad policy,” saying it would allow Chicago to reduce pension payments, costing taxpayers money in the long run. Previously, the governor had said he would consider signing the bill if it was part of a package of structural changes. The veto is “harmful to taxpayers,” according to a statement from Emanuel on Friday.

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