Just one of the three lawmakers who represent parts of Evanston voted in favor of a pension reform bill that passed the Illinois House this afternoon on a 62-51 vote.

The bill, with backing from both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Leader Tom Cross, cleared the chamber with just two votes to spare.

That sets the stage for negotiations with the Senate to come up with a plan that can clear both houses.

During debate on the bill, State Rep. Tom Morrison said taxpayers deserve pension reform.

GOP Leader Cross said everyone in Illinois will benefit from the stability that will come from controlling the state’s pension debt.

The bill would force state workers to pay more for smaller pension benefits, in exchange for a binding legal promise that the state will make its required contributions to the pension systems — something the state has failed to do in the past.

State Reps. Robyn Gabel voted for the measure while State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Laura Fine voted against it, with Fine switching her vote from yes to no at the last second.

The union coalition We Are One Illinois called the legislation “unfair to the active and retired teachers, nurses, police, and other employees who paid out of every paycheck to fund their pensions, even as the state shorted its share.”

The union group also repeated its claim that House plan is unconstitutional, but said it had a “productive meeting” today with State Senate President John Cullerton on the pension issue.

Editor’s note 5 a.m. 5/6/13: We didn’t initially catch Fine’s last second switch from yes to no on the bill and so an earlier version of this story reported that she’d voted yes. Thanks to an alert reader for catching the mistake.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Fine and Gabel vote like Mike

    Fine and Gabel vote like Mike Madigan tells them to. Unionized workers should remember this vote when these two acolytes of King Madigan run for re-election next year.  Can't Democrats be primaried too?

  2. Pension Reform must be passed

    "King Madigan" must pass pension reform to create a system that works for everyone, public workers who deserve a fair pension and one that is appropriately funded, and  taxpayers who must pay for this benefit.

    The current system doesn't work and everyone knows it.

    Fingers can be pointed in many directions (doesn't solve the problem, but maybe we'll learn from our mistakes), but for now we must create an equitable pension system that works for everyone.

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