Emanuel presents pension problems to Illinois legislators

May 8, 2012

Download Story
(AP/file)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel testifies during the House Committee Hearing on Personnel and Pensions at the Illinois State Capitol ,Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. Emanuel wants to raise the retirement age, make city employees contribute more to their pension funds, and halt cost-of-living increases for retirees.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel went before Illinois lawmakers in Springfield Tuesday to help him get a handle on souring pension costs.

Just like the state of Illinois, the City of Chicago is reeling with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities for its workers. Emanuel said a fix is needed or property taxes could skyrocket in coming years to pay the estimated $20 billion debt.

Emanuel took his case before a House panel looking into pension reform. He's calling for a pause on cost of living increases for 10 years for current retirees.

"These increases present the biggest potential burden on our taxpayers and the single greatest threat to the retirement security of our present public employees," Emanuel said at the hearing. "We need to hit the pause button so the entire system can catch its breath. By doing this, we will stop digging a deeper hole and allow the reforms we put in place to take hold."

Emanuel said he knows his proposals will not sit well with many retirees and others paying into the system.