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Retirees React to Pension Law Signing
On Tuesday, Illinois lawmakers passed a compromise pension reform plan through both chambers.
On Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed it into law.
But the issue is far from over, as unions and employee associations have vowed to sue the state, under the belief that the plan is unconstitutional.
"The cost of the present state systems are simply too rich for the resources available for the State of Illinois," Speaker Mike Madigan said Tuesday when he introduced the compromise plan.
Retired teacher Karen Park disagrees with the sentiment, and blames the lawmakers who skipped and underfunded payments.
"I feel that teachers didn't create this pension problem, this crisis," said Park. "Why should teachers, and other people that are involved with the pension system be accountable to, liable to fix this problem?"
The Illinois Teachers Retirement System says its average current pension is $48,216.
They estimate a retiree at that level would lose 18.6 percent of their pension after 20 years, compared to the current system.
But the new system switches from a fixed cost of living adjustment to one based on the consumer price index, so exact numbers can't be known for sure.
"It does make me nervous," said Park. "Because there is no factual information out there, we are not getting what we were promised"
State retiree Rudy Kink believes this part of a series of attacks on retiree benefits.
"We're paying for our health insurance, we're paying for our dental, we're paying for this, where's it going to end at?" said Kink. "I don't know where it's going to end at. I don't think this is the end. I think possibly the next avenue would be to start taxing pensions."
They both hope the courts strike this law down.
"I do hope that it is defined as unconstitutional," said Park.
The "We Are One" coalition released a statement that said, "Senate Bill 1 is attempted pension theft, and its illegal. Once overturned, its purported savings will evaporate, and the states finances and pension systems will be left in worse shape."
It added, "Our coalition has been consistently in contact with our attorneys, and today we directed them to prepare to file suit. We will challenge SB 1 as violating the constitution and ask for a stay of the legislation's implementation pending a ruling on its constitutionality."
Quinn released a statement that said, "This is a serious solution to address the most dire fiscal challenge of our time."
Reporting in Springfield, Mike Brooks, ABC News Channel 20.
Statement from Quinn's office
Statement from We Are One Illinois