Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) argues pension legislation while on the Senate floor Thursday. The Senate approved a union-supported pension reform bill, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers passed a competing proposal last week. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
With reporting from Zach Buchheit
SPRINGFIELD-The Illinois Senate put itself on a collision course with the House Thursday by approving a Democratic pension-reform package favored by unions despite opposition from Republicans and a clear signal from Gov. Pat Quinn it wasn't his preferred pension fix.
"This is not a bill that just helps us this year or next year. This will help us for the next 30 years, and we have to be practical. We have to pass a bill. This is the best chance to do so," said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the measure's chief Senate sponsor.
His legislation, which passed the Senate 40-16 and moves to the House, would wipe away about $11.5 billion of the state's nearly $100 billion pension shortfall - savings that are barely a third of a competing alternative from House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and now in the Senate's lap.
"The big problem with this bill is that it doesn't solve the problem," said Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who like most Republicans voted against the plan.
The vote came after Quinn made clear his loyalties lie with the Madigan version of pension reform, not with what the Senate voted on Thursday.