1-City-_Ill_pensions_Michael_Madigan.jpgIllinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaks to lawmakers May 1, 2013 during a House Committee hearing regarding state pension legislation at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A union-backed approach for dealing with Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension crisis is getting its first full airing.

A Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the new legislative proposal.

The measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. For example, if workers choose to receive health insurance in retirement they would get smaller cost-of-living increases. Those who choose to keep 3 percent cost-of-living increases compounded annually wouldn’t get health insurance.

Senate President John Cullerton says the plan saves money and would survive a court challenge.

Critics say the cost savings may not be enough to properly address Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension shortfall.

Senate Democrats opted to move forward with the union-supported proposal over a plan approved in the House last week that would unilaterally cut retirement benefits.

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