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Castro passes pension consolidation program

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SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to lessen the threat of the ongoing pension crisis, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) and the Senate passed a measure today that will consolidate certain local pensions.

“The number one budget issue legislators have been dealing with for decades is the pension crisis,” Castro said. “We got a small victory today. Consolidating local pension funds eases some of the burden of the looming crisis while still allowing our state’s brave first responders to receive the pensions they’ve earned.”

The bill is an omnibus package for Fiscal Year 2020 that will enact many changes to pension statute, chief among them the ability to consolidate. Under the bill, the roughly 650 separate pension funds for downstate police officers and firefighters will be consolidated into two individual and separate funds. The consolidation will happen over a 30-month transition period beginning upon the legislation becoming law and is estimated to save $160 million annually while not affecting individual pension amounts.

“I’ve been working alongside the governor and all of the advocacy groups that were a part of the task force to address this issue, and I’m happy that the Senate approved this program,” Castro said. “I look forward to seeing it signed into law, but this is only the first step. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Senate Bill 1300 was sent back by the House of Representatives after being amended in that chamber. Its passage by a vote of 42 – 12 is final, and it will now be sent to Gov. JB Pritzker for approval.