Illinois House Votes to Fund State Pensions Fully

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(WGN-AM) - In another blow to Governor Quinn's budget, the Illinois House voted to make the state's full annual payment to government retirement systems.

Quinn had proposed trimming the payment by $2.2 billion, justifying the reduction by calling for changes in retirement benefits that would save the state money for decades to come.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said there was little support among House Democrats for reducing the pension payment, a step that has been taken in past years.

Spending that pension money would leave the government with about $3.5 billion to cover $10 billion worth of proposed spending, said Madigan.

Even if lawmakers approve a tax increase, the state would still face a budget hole of roughly $3 billion.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D- Chicago, used the debate to warn that Illinois is on the verge of making massive cuts to important services.

"It will virtually shut down programs that are life-sustaining and vital programs to the people of Illinois," she said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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