Illinois News

Quinn blames pension reform failure on GOP

Friday, August 17, 2012

After 53 state reps voted against a measure to abolish the retirement system for Illinois lawmakers, Gov. Pat Quinn laid the pension reform failure squarely at the feet of General Assembly Republicans.

"If you can't reform your own house, how can you with credibility go to other folks who work in Illinois and say you've gotta reform your pensions systems," said Quinn.

After failing to reform the state worker, teacher, university and judicial retirement systems, the House -- at the governor's request -- considered ending pensions for state lawmakers by 2014. It would save only $230 million of the Illinois projected $83 billion pension debt.

"We did start with ourselves. It didn't mean we stop with ourselves," said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).

The governor called the special session last month hoping the House and Senate could pass comprehensive pension reform. But there were no meetings involving the leaders of both parties in one room since the Quinn proclamation.

"I know he's trying. I know what he wants to accomplish but it requires him to really get with more than just the legislative leaders to try and work out something that we can pass," said Rep. Will Davis (D-South Suburbs).

Republicans blamed the Democrats for playing politics with the issue.

"I think that what has happened here is that orchestrated chaos to make sure nothing happens," said Sen. Christine Radogno (R), Senate Minority Leader.

"When you have somebody that says, this is the only way we're going to do it, if you don't like it, too bad, that's what's unhealthy," said Rep. Tom Cross (R), House Minority Leader.

The governor says he'll enlist the public in his pension reform fight with the Republicans.

"The only way to get 'em to stand up right on this issue is to, the people of Illinois, the people who pay the taxes to lean on 'em," said Quinn.

The governor would not say when or where he'd begin his public appeal, but he insisted he's an experienced grassroots organizer.

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