Illinois lawmakers today approved a pension consolidation plan that will combine 650 local pension funds for police and firefighters to just two — a step that advocates claim will reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.

Local governments now must pay fees for the management of their individual plans, “which inflates property taxes for families and seniors,” State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, whose district includes part of Evanston, said in a statement following the vote.

“By consolidating hundreds of funds, Illinois can reduce the costs of government operations, increase buying power and ultimately use tax dollars more judiciously,” she added.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston and State Sen. Laura Fine of Glenview also voted in favor of the pension reform bill, SB 1300.

Gong-Gershowitz says that the consolidation measure could lead to between $3.6 billion and $12.7 billion in increased investment returns over the next 20 years.

Update 11 a.m. 11/15/19: Evanston’s chief financial officer, Hitesh Desai, says that because of last-minute amendments to the bill that improved pension benefits for “Tier 2” recently hired employees, he’s unable to estimate yet how much impact the new law will have on the City of Evanston’s budget.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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