Illinois unions look to tax hikes for pension fix

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Illinois unions pointed to tax hikes as a way to deal with the state's pension crisis.

We are One Illinois Coalition hosted a closed-door pension summit Monday that focused almost exclusively on raising taxes as a way to pay for Illinois’ $130 billion pension debt and nearly $8 billion annual pension payment.

We are One Illinois Coalition, which includes American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association and the state’s AFL-CIO, argued that not just one, but several taxes should be raised in order to fix Illinois' pension problems.

“There was talk of a progressive income tax, talk of broadening the sales tax, one person talked about taxing retirement income,” said House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

Cross was the only one of the four legislative leaders to attend Monday's meeting. House Speaker Mike Madigan dismissed the unions in a letter last week.

Gov. Pat Quinn did attend the meeting for a few hours, but left without answering questions.

“Revenue, I would say, definitely has to be discussed,” said State Sen. Mike Noland, D-Elgin, who was receptive to the idea of tax hikes.

Illinois lawmakers have been warned by bond houses that they have until the end of the spring session to deliver pension reform, or face further credit downgrades.

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