State pension solution would cost cities millions

By Paul Strater

May 16, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 9:26 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill -- A controversial measure to fund state teachers' pensions was scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday in Springfield.

However, after a hearing room packed full of people gathered, it was removed from the schedule without explanation.

The measure would take hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax income already promised to municipalities and school districts.

City representatives and teachers organizations traveled for hours to attend the meeting.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says the plan would be a disaster for his city.

"If our state legislators support a vote that is going to take six and a half million dollars away from us, it's going to mean cuts to police and fire. It could mean 44 police officers, it could mean up to 48 firefighters, or a combination of both," said Ardis.

One state legislator says it's just another tax increase under wraps.

"There's no way to get around it without higher property taxes. And we've already got some of the highest property taxes in the nation. This is a back door way for a property tax increase without having to take a vote in the state legislature and I'm completely against it," said State Representative Mike Unes, Republican from the 91st district.

Ardis says to make up for the money that would be taken away and not cut city services, Peoria would need to increase property taxes by 25 percent.