Blueprint for constitutional pension reform

Change to Pension Protection Clause to create flexibility

I’ve introduced a proposed change to the Illinois Constitution that voters would have to approve so that pensions can remain sustainable into the future.  Current liabilities total nearly $140 billion and are unaffordable in the long term.

My legislation has 3 main goals:

  1. Maximum single pension cap at $110,000 with small increase of 2% each year
  2. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) would be 2% instead of 3% (similar to changes that passed in the State of Arizona)
  3. Adjustment of the retirement age to be in line with Tier 2, 65.

During a transitional period, it would make some sense to phase in a change in the retirement age, for example:

  • less than 2 years from retirement – no change in pension start age
  • 2-5 – pension start age increases 2 years
  • 5-8 – pension start age increases 4 years
  • 8-10 – pension start age increase 6 years
  • 10-15 – pension start age increase 8 years
  • Over 15 years from retirement – pension start age increase 10 years


  • New employees since 2011 under Tier 2 have a retirement age of 67 (55 for public safety), a lesser pension can be selected to start at 62
  • Employees can retire when they reach full pensionable status, but would not receive benefits
  • We have current employees who retire at age 50, start receiving a pension, take another government job doing the same work and receive pay for that, and they also start a second pension.  This proposal would not eliminate second employment, but would delay the pension start date
  • There are no limits on individual pensions.  There are current pension benefits being paid in the amounts of over $200,000, $300,000, and even  over $500,000
  • 19,000 Illinois pensioners are earning over $100,000 per year
  • Nearly 90% of Americans do not have these types of pension benefits, yet taxpayers are forced to pay into these unsustainable systems
  • The average Social Security payout is $1503 or $18,036. Full benefits start around 67 (lesser benefit is available sooner).  Maximum current benefit is $137,700  with 35 years for full vesting.

This proposal would need to be placed on the ballot and approved by voters.