CHICAGO Jan 9 Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
signaled a likely veto on Monday of newly passed legislation to
stave off possible insolvency for two of Chicago's pension
Credit ratings for the nation's third-largest city have been
plummeting largely due to an unfunded pension liability that
stood at $33.8 billion at the end of fiscal 2015 for Chicago's
four retirement systems.
By a 41-0 vote, the Illinois Senate approved the proposed
rescue, which cleared the House overwhelming in December. The
plan would authorize new city funding for Chicago's municipal
and laborers retirement systems.
The systems are projected to run out of money in the coming
decade and were depending on legislative sign-off of the city's
enactment of a water and sewer usage tax and telephone surcharge
designed to help get them 90 percent funded in 40 years.
City officials have acknowledged that more money will be
needed starting in 2023 when payments will reach actuarially
"The bill essentially authorizes another property tax hike
on the people of Chicago and sets a funding cliff five years out
without any assurances that the city can meet its obligations,"
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. "The
governor cannot support this bill without real pension reform
that protects taxpayers."
Rauner's response drew belittlement from Chicago Mayor Rahm
"Bruce Rauner is Governor Gridlock, and he is showing why
nothing gets done in Springfield," said Emanuel spokesman Adam
Collins, who argued the governor should focus on passing a
budget and fixing Illinois' pension woes.
A bipartisan, statewide fix to Illinois' $129.8 pension
crisis did not get called for a vote in the Illinois Senate on
Monday as part of a sprawling deal to end an 18-month budget
stalemate, pass non-budgetary reforms sought by Rauner and
expand casino gambling, among other things.
That package's architects, Democratic Senate President John
Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno,
pledged to reintroduce their plan after a new legislative
session begins Wednesday.
On a separate budgetary track, the House on Monday approved
a $657.3 million appropriation plan for universities and social
service agencies that lost spending authority on Jan. 1.
The House-passed legislation that would fund operations
through June awaits Senate approval, but Rauner has expressed
past reluctance to support new stopgap spending without other
(Reporting by Dave McKinney; Editing by Leslie Adler)