January 29, 2021
On January 21, 2021, the Civic Federation sent the following letter to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, urging him to veto House Bill 2451. The bill would expand a 3% non-compounded automatic annual increase to Chicago firefighters’ pensions to all Tier 1 members.
The bill passed over the opposition of the leadership of the City of Chicago during the recent lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly and was not tied to any assistance to help Chicago pay for this benefit enhancement, which the City projects will cost $857 million through 2055. The City of Chicago faces significant budget difficulties due to revenue losses from the pandemic and pension funding pressures, and can ill-afford any benefit enhancements to its severely underfunded pensions.
Currently, the 3% simple interest increase is only available to firefighters born before 1966. Firefighters born after that date are eligible for a 1.5% simple interest increase that is capped at 30%. The cohort of Tier 1 members eligible for the 3% simple interest increase without a 30% cap has been expanded periodically by changes to state law. The most recent expansion, contained in Public Act 99-905, was passed during the veto session in November 2016 over objections by the City of Chicago and over an amendatory veto by then Governor Rauner. That legislation expanded the 3% benefit to Tier 1 firefighters born after 1954 and before 1966.
Click the image below to read the full letter.