Will Quinn's push for pension reform succeed?

August 6, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Can the governor's push for pension reform succeed? The legislative leaders of both parties remain skeptical of Quinn's timetable.

When the governor welcomed the National Conference Of State Legislators to McCormick Place, he sounded as though he and the Illinois General Assembly were on the same page.

"Working again with legislators of both parties, both houses, in a bi-partisan way," Governor Quinn, (D) Illinois, said. But Democrat Quinn -- who has called lawmakers back to Springfield on August 17th to pass pension reform -- is under increasing fire from Illinois Republicans. They doubt that much can be accomplished on the issue in only one day especially without some agreement beforehand.

"With an issue like this it would seem that you would get good consensus before you call people back and know you that you could take action that would solve the problem- and I don't think that's the case," said Sen. Christine Radogno, (R) Minority Leader, said.

But Quinn says there's nothing left to talk about. He cited a study released by his office Sunday that by 2016 Illinois will spend more on retirees than on education.

"Less money will come from Springfield for education because that money is going to public pensions," Gov. Pat Quinn, (D) Illinois, said.

Republicans oppose a Democratic proposal to shift the state's contribution to teachers' pensions to suburban and downstate school districts.

"Our school superintendents are up in arms because of the uncertainty of how much more money it's gonna cost our suburban taxpayers," Rep. Skip Saviano, (R) Elmwood Park, said.

But the governor repeated his insistence that without reform all the state's public schools will pay more to make up the money consumed by pensions.

"The time for excuses, alibis is over. The people of Illinois want action," Gov. Quinn said.

A spokeswoman for the governor says the so-called "pensions working group" will reconvene tomorrow to crunch numbers to determine how reform might affect individual school districts. There is no comprehensive pension reform bill in print that lawmakers might consider when they return to work on August 17th.

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