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Illinois Legislature Overrode Rauner Veto To Pass New Chicago Pension Law

By Mae Rice in News on May 31, 2016 6:50PM

On Monday, the Illinois legislature passed a bill lowering the amount the city of Chicago has to pay into police and firefighter pensions in 2016. To do this, the legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner, confirming what we already knew: It's really, really, really, really hard to agree with Rauner about anything at this point.

For no one would it be harder than Mayor Rahm Emanuel, once Rauner's buddy in vacationing and wine-sipping. Rahm became basically apoplectic when Rauner vetoed the pension bill on Friday, saying in a variety of press statements that Rauner's veto would trigger a $300 million property tax hike in Chicago. He also called the veto a "callous decision," "harmful," and "an unspeakable act of disrespect toward our men and women in uniform," (because, Rahm elaborated, Rauner vetoed "a bill to protect... police and fire pensions" on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend).

"[L]ike everything he does, it is contradictory to his own supposed policy positions," Rahm said of the veto in a statement on Friday full of implicit verve. "It’s no wonder no one can trust him." Rauner once supported the bill, according to Rahm—but in a Friday statement, Rauner called it "irresponsible" and "kicking the can down the road," according to the Tribune.

Now, though, Rahm can rest easy. The new law loosens up a 2010 state law that required Chicago to pay more money into its public safety workers' pensions, so that they would be 90 percent funded by 2040, according to Reuters. According to the old version of the law, Chicago had to pay $834 million into firefighter and police pensions this year (up from $290.4 million in 2015). The new version allows Chicago to pay only $619 million into the pensions this year, and gives the city until 2055 to get the pensions 90 percent funded.

The local police and fire unions support the override. In a joint statement released with the mayor Monday, they said the bill will solve "a decades-old pension problem":

“On behalf of thousands of active and retired Fire Fighters and Police Officers, and on behalf of the millions of Chicago taxpayers, we wish to thank the members of the state Senate for overriding Governor Rauner's veto. Senate Bill 777 reflects months of negotiation between our Fire and Police unions and the city of Chicago, through which we came together on an agreement to solve a decades-old pension problem, an excellent example of local control at it's best.”

Maybe now that that's taken care of, the state can get around to passing a budget? Just a thought.