By Ray Long and Rick Pearson

Top Illinois legislators said today they've reached agreement on a plan to deal with the state's worst-in-the-nation unfunded public pension liability and expect to vote on it next week.

Details of the proposal were not immediately announced, but the four legislative leaders had been negotiating on plans to slow compounded annual cost-of-living adjustments for public employees--the biggest driver of the state's $100 billion unfunded pension liability.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders said they reached an agreement, after more than two years of discussions spurred by a continued downgrading of the state's credit rating. The debate has centered on how to reduce costs while balancing the legal protections to public employee retiree benefits laid out in the state constitution.

"There is a deal," said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, in an email. "We are asking our members to return on Tuesday. We are going to spend the next week reviewing the plan with our caucus."

The senators will join House lawmakers, who were told yesterday to return Dec. 3 to Springfield for a one-day session. The Dec. 3 date is politically significant because it is the day after the filing deadline for the March 2014 primary election, and lawmakers will know what competition they have.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune