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Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
5:15pm
Tue Dec 3, 2013

Illinois Lawmakers Ram Pension Reform Bill Through, Labor Preps For Legal Fight (UPDATED)

The Illinois General Assembly passed a controversial pension reform bill Tuesday, and labor is now prepping for a legal fight.

The House voted in favor of the bill 62-53 and the Senate barely passed the measure with a 30-24 vote. The bill needed 30 votes to pass through the Senate.

State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), who was the lone member of the ten-person, bipartisan conference that didn't vote for the bill to move out of committee said the state's pension debt is the fault of the state legislature — not public employees and retirees. She also pushed back against House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) assertion earlier today that the pension system was "too rich" for what the state to afford.

“I believe this was actually more caused by the fact that we as a state did not make our pension payments as we should have even though the employees worked and their full payments were made,” Holmes said. “So I think a lot of this problem stems from the fact that we actually didn’t do what we were obligated and should have done.”

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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
12:10pm
Tue Dec 3, 2013

Illinois Lawmakers Poised To Rush Vote On Controversial Pension Reform Proposal

All eyes are on Springfield Tuesday as state lawmakers are expected to take another shot at approving legislation that addresses Illinois' $100 billion in pension debt, which is the worst in the nation. Progress Illinois takes a look at the proposal and includes some of the reaction about the plan thus far.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:53pm
Wed Nov 6, 2013

A Look At The Fall Veto Session: What's Happened & What's Next (UPDATED)

Progress Illinois provides a roundup of the highlights from the fall veto session, and offers a look at what might be next.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:25pm
Fri Oct 11, 2013

State Sen. Lightford: Flurry Of Charter School Bills Expected In Upcoming Legislative Sessions

At an education forum in Oak Park Wednesday, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) said she plans to introduce legislation to help stop the Illinois State Charter Commission's "hidden agenda" of expanding charter schools across the state.

The Illinois legislature set up this special charter governing body back in 2011. The commission has autonomy from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the power to override local school boards if they reject applications from charter companies looking to open schools in their communities. A number of education activists have blasted the commission, saying its sole purpose is to override these charter denials.

"This independent authorizer, they've hired a lobbyist that has a salary, and there's a hidden agenda," Lightford said at the forum, held at Oak Park's Percy Julian Middle School. "(School) funding would come away from you and go directly into this situation, and I think it's something we all should be very mindful of."

Lightford said she would introduce a bill at some point during next year's legislative session that would get rid of the commission's override powers and give charter authorizing responsibility back to ISBE. Read more »