SPRINGFIELD, IL â€“ Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th) issued the following statement on the pension reform votes taken in the Senate this afternoon. Sen. Raoul voted in favor of Senate Bill 1 (Cullerton) and against Senate Bill 35 (Biss).
I want to commend Senator Biss and Representative Nekritz for their diligent work toward a meaningful solution to our pension crisis. My position on Senate Bill 35 had less to do with the merits of their proposed structural changes and much more to do with the legislationâ€™s viability when challenged on constitutional grounds.
To vote for legislation I strongly believe would be overturned in court would have been a disservice to the citizens of Illinois. It would not have respected the protection our constitution affords public employees. And it would have put us back here, in an even worse fiscal situation, debating the same difficult issues one or more years down the road.
I voted in favor of Senate Bill 1, which reforms the Teachersâ€™ Retirement System using contractual modification principles I believe pass constitutional muster. I concede that this measure, along with companion legislation that will apply the same framework to three other state retirement systems, will not result in the same level of savings as Senate Bill 35. They do, however, start us down the road to fully funding our pensions and reducing the unfunded liabilityâ€™s impact on our ability to provide needed services.