State Sen. Biss aims to solve pension problem - Dallas News |

State Sen. Biss aims to solve pension problem as committee member

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The latest committee trying to break the Springfield Stalemate on the pension issue will meet for the first time next week.

The special committee on public employee pensions, including members from both the State Senate and the House, will hold its first public hearing Thursday in The Loop. State Senator Daniel Biss, who considers himself a liberal Democrat and a union ally, told FOX 32 when he realized pension costs had to be cut.

"I am a Democrat and I strongly support Labor (but) came to the conclusion we had to make very significant steps because of the depth of cuts in other areas the public relies on: education, health care, transportation, human services, public safety, etc," Biss says. "So, the question is, how are we gonna fill that $100 billion hole?"

Senator Biss praised a proposal offered by a group of presidents of state universities in Illinois. Their pension fund has more than 100,000 beneficiaries. It would offer a retirement benefit that combined both a traditional pension and a 401K-style that investment workers could guide themselves. Biss said it would not save taxpayers as much as a proposal passed last month by Speaker Mike Madigan's, but he claimed it would save far more than a bill approved by his own state senate and enable the state to perhaps reverse some painful budget cuts.

"We're spending five times as much money on the pension system and it's gobbled up our ability to spend money on the rest of the budget," Biss says.

Senator Biss said some legislators will work over the weekend as part of a push to meet Governor Quinn's deadline of July 9 to find a proposal with enough support to become law.

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