Gov. Pat Quinn holds Democrats-only pension crisis meeting

June 10, 2013 4:55:03 PM PDT
After being "unavailable" for a week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan showed up today for a pension summit with Governor Pat Quinn.

Not only did he attend the Democrats-only meeting with the Governor and Senate President John Cullerton, the embattled speaker actually spoke to reporters. He told ABC7 he's not quite ready for compromise on pension reform.

Arriving at the Governor's office, Speaker Mike Madigan joked about last week's revelation that he doesn't carry a cellphone.

But the Governor had no time for jokes, pointing out that Madigan's House and President John Cullerton's Senate had failed three years in a row to pass pension reform.

Cullerton promised to work with the Governor to write a new bill that combines elements of the union-backed measure his Senate passed and parts of another bill passed by Madigan's House.

"Let's put both those together and try to get a compromise," said Cullerton.

But Madigan has only agreed to the Senate reconsideration of the bill passed by his chamber that purportedly shaves three times as much money off the $100 billion pension debt.

"The best pension bill passed so far, the one that does the most cost savings is the House bill. It's in the Senate. The Governor ought to work to get that passed," said Madigan.

But Quinn threw the ball back to Madigan.

"This is their job. They have a job to do," said Gov. Quinn.

The Speaker dismissed claims that he is trying kill pension reform this year to benefit his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and her still-possible campaign for Governor.

"If I didn't want pension reform, then I would not have worked to pass the House pension bill as I did," said Madigan.

Republicans were not invited to the meeting. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno criticized what she called the Democrat's "secrecy and exclusion that has produced only failure."

"We're going to have votes hopefully on the 19th and we hope that Republicans will support the bill," said Rep. Cullerton.

During the next nine days, the Governor and Cullerton promised to try to drum up support in the Senate for the bill already passed by Madigan's House. They'll also write a compromise bill just in case they can't convince enough senators to do things the Madigan way.

Meanwhile, Speaker Madigan will not promise he will call the compromise bill in his chamber if it's all that's left to consider.

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