Lawmakers to work on Ill. pension deal next week

November 26, 2013

The leaders are not giving many details about their talks but have said there's been movement to solve the 100-billion dollar pension crisis.

Not only are illinois taxpayers being kept in the dark on the latest proposed pension fix...only a few lawmakers know what's going on. The rest of are being asked to trust that their leaders are getting the job done:

"We're focused on a plan that has good benefit reform, that's fair to state employees and that saves taxpayers dollars," said State Sen. Christine Radogno, (R) minority leader.

Radogno and her House Republican counterpart Jim Durkin would not provide details of their negotiations with Democratic leaders on a pension reform bill presumably to be considered next week in Springfield.

"It's not as if we in just two days are dropping something in anybody's lap. These are all concepts that have been kicked around and vetted, and we are just trying to find the right fix," said Durkin.

A House-Senate conference committee failed to reach a consensus on how to resolve the pension system's $100 billion unfunded liability, then sent their work product to the leaders.

"The leaders needed to sit down at the table together and come to a resolution, and that's what's happened," said State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, (D) conference committee member.

Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan has told his members to plan on being in Springfield next Tuesday. But Representative Ken Dunkin said he still has no idea what he'll be asked to consider.

"It's going to be a real challenge for members to have a short window to discern what's in a major piece of legislation in the history of the state of Illinois," said Dunkin.

"Nothing here that's new, these concepts have been around," said Radogno.

Durkin described concepts still on the table as fluid, including reducing retiree cost of living adjustments, increasing employee contributions and/or 401ks and raising the retirement age.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose city might have to raise taxes next year if a pension fix doesn't happen soon, said he was hopeful.

"I think the state will meet its obligation. It's important to us as a city that they do, and I will work for it when they announce their plan to seek that reform and get the passage of it," Emanuel said.

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