- Post 10 May 2012
- By Copy Editor
(The Chicago Sun-Times) SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Wednesday to yank "free" taxpayer-funded health insurance from nearly 80,000 retired state workers, university employees, lawmakers and judges.
The measure, which was approved by a 74-43 vote and now moves to the Senate, takes aim at an $876 million annual subsidy that had been one of the most lucrative perks of public employment.
"Not only are these benefits unaffordable given today's fiscal situation, but they are far more generous than those provided by other governments to their employees and those provided by the private sector," said House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill along with House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego).
"If you take this bill and compare it to other matters we're being asked to do in this session, I say if we can't do this bill, what are we going to be able to do?" Madigan asked.
Indeed, the health-care decision represents the first of several painful fiscal votes lawmakers face this month, when they are expected to impose $2.7 billion worth of Medicaid cuts and dramatically trim state and possibly city pension benefits. ...continues...