Senate President John Cullerton has proposed changing current employee cost of living adjustment from 3% compounding to 3% simple, or half the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. Senator Cullerton estimates that this will have a lifetime savings of $250,000 per retiree. In exchange for the COLA reduction the Illinois General Assembly would be locked into a funding arrangement that guarantees a funding status of at least 90% by 2045.
Instituting the Cullerton plan for Cook County would reduce the current employee COLA liability, but significantly increase County contributions. Cook County currently contributes a 1.54 multiple of the employee’s contribution two years prior and to reach a funding goal of 90% by 2045 the County’s contributions would have to almost double every year. Doubling the contribution amounts would require an increase in County property taxes or significant cuts to County public health and public safety programs.