Pension reform a heated topic in Springfield

There was heated debate Tuesday in Springfield as lawmakers discussed a plan to cut government pensions and shift some retirement costs to schools.

The House approved the measure to reduce annual cost-of-living increases for public employees like state workers, university staff and downstate teachers.

It also gradually makes schools and universities pay the cost of retirement benefits for their employees, as Chicago schools already do.

Opponents argue schools would be stuck with a huge expense at a time when money is already tight.

However, House Speaker Michael Madigan said the shift would make schools come up with the money they promise to their employees. He says that's the American way.

A House pension committee approved the bill 6-3 Tuesday.