No movement in IL pension reform

September 5, 2013 4:27:09 PM PDT
After a summer of continued credit downgrades and persistent high unemployment, the bi-partisan pensions committee has nothing to show despite nearly three months of work.

At an un-related event, a self-described "anxious" Governor Pat Quinn worried that the Illinois House/Senate conference committee on pension reform was taking so much time.

"I do think it's imperative that they get their work finished, hopefully as soon as possible," Gov. Pat Quinn, (D) Illinois, said.

The ten member committee is charged with writing a compromise reform bill to resolve the state's worst-in-the-nation, $100 billion unfunded pension debt. The governor vetoed lawmaker paychecks and will not take his own salary until the General Assembly passes a reform bill.

"I don't agree with the governor's action as it relates to the General Assembly because that hasn't made the process move any faster," State Rep. Will Davis, (D) Hazel Crest, said.

Republican Senator Matt Murphy, a committee member, blamed Democrats, who he says are under pressure from public sector unions not to cut pensions.

"There's fear of the unions politically that is inhibiting them from doing what everybody recognizes needs to be done," Sen. Matt Murphy, (R) Palatine, said.

"What the pension committee has been trying to do all summer is patch a hole in the Titanic," John Tillman, director of the Illinois Policy Institute, said. Tillman, who wants the state to adopt a 401k style system, said the committee is mired in the status quo.

"While they have met and talked and conversed they have not entertained a single proposal that would fix the structural problems with the current system," Tillman said.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Rutherford is not optimistic the conference committee process will produce pension reform, and predicts the issue will not go away any time soon.

"My sense is the next pressure point is going to be the election," Rutherford said.

Late Thursday afternoon, conference committee chairman Senator Kwame Raoul issued a statement the panel was "eager to finish its work" and was "working out some non-economic terms of a proposal".

Lawmakers have sued the governor to get their paychecks restored. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for September 18.


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