Governor Quinn: Madigan 'unavailable' to discuss pension crisis

June 4, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"It's important to make sure we get public pension reform and we've got to do it right away," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

But how soon pension reform might happen could depend on how long it takes for Quinn to find Mike Madigan. The House Speaker- last seen in Springfield last Friday- is reportedly on vacation in Wisconsin and did not respond to the Governor's request for a meeting earlier today.

"He was unavailable," said Gov. Quinn. "It's his choice, he doesn't have a cellphone. I did leave a message with his wife, who called me and I returned her call and I haven't heard from either of them."

Senate President John Cullerton, who publicly clashed with Madigan over their different proposals for pension reform, did meet with the Governor this morning. But Quinn said just one chamber's leader can't get the job done.

"This kind of situation demands that both of the leaders work with the Governor to get a bill on my desk," said Gov. Quinn.

"This is either an example of a very dysfunctional Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate or a pretty amazing political game which is also equally disturbing," said House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

Yesterday, Republican analyst Dan Proft suspected Madigan and Cullerton choreographed their pension disagreement so there would be no reform this year to the benefit of the speaker's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She says she's considering a Democratic primary run for Quinn's job.

The governor was asked about the possibility that pension reform is stalled because of election year politics.

"This is not about politics. I think it's very, very important that we put taxpayers first and only taxpayers," said Gov. Quinn.

The state's worst in the nation pension debt is projected at $100 billion and rising at the rate of $17 million a day.

On Monday, Fitch Investors Services in New York downgraded Illinois bonds again, making it more expensive for the state to borrow money.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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