A measure that would change the way local governments handle police and firefighter pensions stalled today as lawmakers entered the final hours before their scheduled adjournment date.

A measure that would change the way local governments handle police and firefighter pensions stalled today as lawmakers entered the final hours before their scheduled adjournment date.


House Bill 5873, sponsored by state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, would have increased the age of pension eligibility for policeman and firefighters from 50 to 55 and decrease the maximum benefit from 75 percent after 30 years to 72 percent.


The changes would have applied to only new employees. Current employees would continue to operate under the current system.


Link, who held the bill in a Senate committee Thursday after finding a glaring omission, said the bill simply ran out of time as lawmakers address other pressing issues, namely the state's budget.


Link said the bill might resurface next week if lawmakers return to finish their work on the budget. If not, he said he would likely bring it back during the fall veto session.


The measure, Link said, would save local municipalities about 10 percent on what they contribute now, or roughly $100,000 for the City of Springfield, by allowing communities to change their payment schedule.


But local mayors say a provision within the bill could cost cities.


The proposal calls for an 18-month study of police and firefighter pension payments, to be followed by a requirement that each municipality properly fund its pensions. The cities would have three years to do so - but if they don't come up with answers, the state could take the communities' shares of state income tax revenues to pay pension expenses.


Link said municipalities should have ample time to avert a state takeover and that the only thing that would go into effect immediately, he said, would be the benefit reductions.


Brian Feldt can be reached at 217-782-6292 or Brian.feldt@sj-r.com.