Mayors' group pushes for Illinois pension reform

April 21, 2014

The Associated Press

AP/File
In this Oct. 15, 2013 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The Illinois House voted 73-41 on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, on the plan proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel for municipal-employee and laborers pension programs covering 57,000 workers and retirees. It hinges on a property tax increase of $750 million over five years to cut in half a $20 billion debt within 40 years.

A group of Illinois mayors is calling for an overhaul to local pension systems for police and fire departments, but it's unclear if state lawmakers will take up the issue anytime soon.

No legislation has been drafted and negotiations are in a preliminary stage.

Mayors from communities including Rockford, Aurora, Peoria and several Chicago suburbs spoke Monday. Among the suggested ideas are raising the retirement age and lower annual cost-of-living adjustments.

The mayors say pension problems are "choking local government budgets" and warn some communities will have to raise property taxes or cut services to cover pension obligations.

The effort comes after lawmakers approved legislation overhauling two Chicago pension funds. It hasn't been signed into law yet.

Pension programs are created by state law, so only legislators can approve changes.