Pat Quinn prepares for tough week ahead in Springfield as Illinois legislature heads into final week of session

May 27, 2013 2:47:44 PM PDT
Memorial Day has been no holiday for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Like thousands of other Chicago-area residents, Quinn participated in one of the many parades honoring those who served their country.

He will face a difficult political test this week as Illinois lawmakers consider controversial legislation.

There are only four regular session days left for the Illinois General Assembly to agree on how to reduce the state's pension liability and to decide other major issues.

What lawmakers accomplish this week will set the course for Quinn's political future.

As he celebrated Memorial Day at Park Ridge's annual parade, Quinn said he remains optimistic that lawmakers this week will resolve the state's nearly $100 billion pension debt crisis.

"I think we need to put everybody together and work together to get this done," he said.

The Illinois House of Representatives, which passed a comprehensive pension reform bill earlier in May, held Springfield sessions throughout the holiday weekend.

The State Senate, which took the last two days off, has passed its own, scaled back, union-supported version.

So far there have been no public negotiations to find middle ground but the governor says he's talked to leaders of both chambers in private.

"There's different people with different ideas but the bottom line is by this Friday midnight we must get the legislature to put a pension reform bill on my desk so I can sign it into law swiftly," Quinn said.

Other bills pending in the House or Senate include same-sex marriage, gaming expansion (which includes a Chicago casino and slots at racetracks) and concealed carry of firearms.

When asked if there might be dire consequences for his political future if pension reform is not passed by midnight Friday, Quinn talked about his constituents.

"I think the dire consequences are for the people and economy of Illinois if the legislature doesn't put an important pension reform before me so I can sign it into law," he said.

He returned to Springfield Monday afternoon.

Both the house and senate will be in session on Tuesday morning presumably working on pensions and those other pending issues. The General Assembly is expected to go down to the wire during this critical week.


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