Agreement Or Not? Rauner And Dems Still Apart On Pensions

Jan 22, 2016

Credit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton have been negotiating on pensions.

But Cullerton says what the governor outlined publicly wasn't what they'd talked about in private.

Mainly, because of statements Rauner made, like this:

"In order for Pres. Cullerton's bill to be constitutional, salary increases have to be taken out of collective bargaining," he said.

A phrase seen as an attack on unions, and an idea Cullerton says he doesn't agree with.

Rauner said at the time it's the principle Cullerton has long promoted.

"He just didn't use the right technical words. His core bill is the same. He's just got to use his words a little more carefully," Rauner added.

But Thursday night, Rauner's office issued a statement saying "perhaps the governor was not as precise in his word selection as the Democrats would have liked." It went on to endorse what appears to be Cullerton's framework, which would let  workers choose between keeping cost-of-living increases in retirement and counting future raises when figuring retirement benefits. 

That *could* leave open the door for a potential deal.

Both the governor and senate president say they look forward to working together to do something about Illinois' underfunded pensions.