Governor, lawmakers plan to form new pension crisis committee

June 18, 2013 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)

"John Cullerton and I, we talked about this and we're prepared to accede to the Governor's request in the expectation that the Governor will continue to be an active participant in the lawmaking," said Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

The speaker arrived a day early to attend this hearing by the House Personnel and Pensions Committee. The testimony on what to do about the state's nearly $100 billion pension debt was scheduled before the Governor and Democratic leaders agreed that a House/Senate Conference Committee should be empaneled.

"Any idea that can move the agenda forward is fine with me. It will remain to be seen if this will result in some sincere negotiations," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines).

"I'm for the regular committee process, for the regular going before the chamber, the whole thing. I think it should be voted on by everybody in the chamber," said Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Westmont).

On Wednesday, state representatives and senators in their respective chambers will vote to establish the conference committee process for pension reform.

The House and Senate- each of which has passed different reform bills- will formalize their disagreement in votes.

The disagreement will trigger the 10-member committee: three Democrats and two Republicans from the House, three Democrats and two Republicans from the Senate. When a committee majority reaches an agreement, they'll recommend a compromise bill to both chambers.

Governor Quinn wants a recommendation by early July. But there is no guarantee that the compromise bill will be passed by either or both chambers. Madigan- who supports the comprehensive house pension relief bill- will be a key decider on whether the recommendation will be accepted.

"Well, I'll keep an open mind on everything. Naturally, I'll want to see what the language is before I'll support the bill," said Madigan.

Madigan also said the House pension bill set a high standard for pension legislation.

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