Quinn Signs Emanuel-Backed Pension Reform Bill
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 9, 2014 9:05PM
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a pension reform bill championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that calls for cuts in cost-of-living increases for the Municipal and Laborers retirement funds, raises the retirement age for current employees and sets the stage for a five-year, $250 million property tax hike beginning in 2018. We can imagine Quinn, who has been hawkish in his re-election campaign on holding the line on property taxes, swallowing hard before he put pen to paper.
Quinn signed the bill three days after he approved legislation that hikes the city’s telephone tax by as much as 56 percent—a move that provides him with a measure of political cover as his campaign against GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner heats up. (Rauner had called on Quinn to veto the bill.)
The Emanuel-backed bill was approved by the Illinois Legislature with no mention of the proposed property tax increase. Emanuel has instead placed that decision squarely on the shoulders of City Council, who have been trying to come up with alternatives to fund the pensions without a property tax hike. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) and Will Burns (4th) suggested calls for an immediate TIF surplus on a property tax hike, since that would be one of the unintended consequences of one.
The bill will almost certainly face a legal challenge. The We Are One Illinois coalition of labor unions has already filed a lawsuit challenging the state pension reform plan approved last December. Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin told the Tribune litigation is on the table.