Illinois legislative session ends without teacher pension reform

June 1, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Friday, the governor downplayed the partisan rancor that marked this roller coaster week in the General Assembly.

"We must forge an agreement," Quinn said. "I think we have the elements. We're very close, but we're not there yet."

The governor earlier this week tried to forge a pension reform compromise when he sided with Republicans on a key sticking point, asking House Speaker Michael Madigan to back down on a provision that would have required suburban and downstate school districts to pay for their teachers' pensions.

The issue proved a deal-breaker for many Chicago house members, who say it is time for communities outside Chicago to stop relying on state taxpayers.

"When you've never had to pay your share of the taxes at all, having to pay any part of it is going to be a tough pill to swallow, I think," said State Rep. Greg Harris, (D) Chicago.

Friday, the governor said both sides are not as far apart as they seem.

"Those units of government cannot be free riders," said Quinn. "Everyone I've read about has agreed with the core principal. It's how to implement that principal that we're still having the negotiations on."

On another matter, the governor declined to say whether he would veto a bill expanding casino gambling, which he has opposed in the past, instead repeating his usual mantra: "Integrity, integrity, integrity."

The bill's senate sponsor said the measure contains provisions guarding against fraud and expressed confidence he could scrounge up enough votes for a veto override.

"Instead of having to play this game, we're not trying to embarrass the governor. I'm trying to work with the governor," said State Sen. Terry Link, (D) Waukegan.

The governor says next week he will bring together house and senate leaders from both parties to figure out how to move forward in a special session this summer.

A supermajority of votes is needed to pass anything in a special session ... so they have a long way to go.

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