State lawmakers send pension crisis to committee

June 19, 2013 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)

The general assembly voted to send the pension impasse to a committee in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Everything in Springfield Wednesday went according to script. The conference committee was ordered and is set to write a compromise pension reform bill to be considered when the next special session is called on July 9th.

The process began with Senate President John Cullerton asking members to agree that they disagreed with a pension reform bill passed during the regular session by the House.

The senate vote was an overwhelming 45-11 for non-concurrence. Within the next hour, the house voice-voted "to recede" as they call it here, automatically referring the pension reform issue to a ten-member conference committee.

Earlier, a false fire alarm caused the capitol to be evacuated, delaying the conference committee's creation.

The panel will be comprised of five senators, three democrats and two republicans-and five state reps in the same proportion. The members will be appointed by the leaders of their respective caucuses.

"There are going to be ten different opinions as to how we reach that goal," said State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago).

"I don't know that we'll come to agreement in the conference committee, but I think it's not a bad idea since we're stalled at this point," said State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).

Governor Pat Quinn, who suggested the conference committee idea last week-wants a recommendation for compromise by early next month. The sooner the better for impatient lawmakers.

"It's $17 million a day heaped on every citizen, every child, and speed is of the essence here," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale). "This should have been done decades ago."

The conference committee recommendation is not binding. The House or Senate could reject the recommendations, which could send the pension impasse back to square one.

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