Illinois' Public Pensions Debate

For more than a year, the Daily Herald has intensely reported on a wide range of issues related to the Illinois' most serious financial problem. Now, the House and Senate are wrangling over what to do next.

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  1. So how'd we get here? It's largely lawmakers' and governors' faults over the years, but a tough economy didn't help, either.
  2. So what can they do to fix things? Here's some explanation of some of the reform ideas.
  3. One of the hangups is whether suburban schools should have to pay millions of dollars more every year for teachers' pensions, a cost the state pays now.

  4. And when suburban schools give retiring teachers big raises to boost their pension benefits, it costs both the state and the local districts money.
  5. Union leaders have opposed money-saving pension cuts because they say it's not teachers' fault the state has huge money troubles. They'd offered to pay more into retirement funds, but officials haven't bought in.
  6. And unions' threat to sue is now one of the biggest questions facing any efforts to reform the system.
  7. The issue is not only financial, but political. And it's dogging Gov. Pat Quinn as he gears up for a 2014 re-election bid, and lawmakers will have to grapple with pensions and taxes their entire two-year terms.
  8. And the politics are geographic, not just partisan.
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