Emanuel testifies in Springfield on Illinois pension problems - FOX 32 News Chicago

Emanuel testifies in Springfield on Illinois pension problems

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel was in Springfield Tuesday morning to testify before an Illinois House committee on the state pension problem.

It's his first visit to the state capital since becoming mayor.

Emanuel said without pension reform, the options are to increase property taxes by 150 percent, cut the school budget and crowd 55 students into each classroom, or stop offering services a city should offer.

Mayor Emanuel walked in the committee room with Speaker of the House, Mike Madigan and complimented legislators for having honesty and courage to take on a financial challenge they did not create.

He then detailed his five-point plan to reduce the city's unfunded pension liability by 40 percent.

  • Change cost of living increases. Retirees get raises every year while employees take unpaid furlough days.
  • Have employees pay an additional 5 percent contribution over five years.
  • Increase the retirement age by five years.
  • Offer retirement plan choices.
  • Stop increased city contributions until the system is fixed.

Mayor Emanuel said the situation is urgent. By 2016, there will be a $1.2 million pension bill, 22 percent of the city's yearly budget. He did not blame public employees or retirees.

Republican leader Tom Cross believes this is a test of the relationship between Emanuel and Madigan.

Emanuel will be meeting with all 4 legislative leaders while in Springfield.

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