Quinn to Call Lawmakers Together on Pensions - NBC Chicago
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Quinn to Call Lawmakers Together on Pensions

Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators had said addressing the pension crisis was their top priority this session



    Gov. Pat Quinn vowed to call legislative leaders together in the next week to come up with a fix for the state's $97 billion pension crisis.

    Quinn issued a statement Friday, shortly after the Illinois House adjourned without a pension reform deal and a Senate spokeswoman said that chamber wouldn't take any more pension votes.

    "The people of Illinois want the General Assembly to put comprehensive pension reform on my desk . ... "They do not want legislative leaders to play a $17 million-a-day game with the future of our state, our children and our economy," he said. "There is something wrong in Illinois when the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate could join together to propose a pension holiday for Chicago, yet they could not send a comprehensive pension reform bill to my desk."

    Illinois has the nation's worst state pension shortfall. The governor's office said the unfunded pension liability grows by $17 million per day, squeezing out funding for education and other areas of the budget.

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    Friday's inaction means soaring pension payments will continue to squeeze the state budget. It also could prompt credit rating agencies to further downgrade Illinois' rating, increasing the cost of borrowing.

    Legislators have tried for years to solve the problem but have repeatedly failed.

    The Illinois Senate on Thursday rejected a plan pushed by the House and Quinn, which would cut benefits and increase contributions for employees.

    A separate measure, approved by the Senate, was negotiated with some of the state's largest public-employee unions. That plan offers employees a choice of benefits to forgo, and Senate President John Cullerton said it's the only plan of the two that would survive a court challenge.

    Additionally, a published report, out Thursday, indicates the Senate bill would save $26B in health care costs.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.