2 months, 1 week ago by Ben Yount, Illinois Watchdog
Lawmakers say they're not quite there yet
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers were never going to knuckle-under and give Gov.Pat Quinn a pension reform plan, and certainly not while he was holding their paychecks hostage.
So now that a judge has ordered that state legislators be paid — with interest — will Illinois finally see some movement on pension reform? Probably not.
“We’re not there yet, but I think we’re extremely close,” state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said Thursday about a vote on pension reform legislation, which is still under construction.
How close is extremely close?
“The charge of the (pension) conference committee is to come up with a proposal that we think (can) so
lve the pension problem … and that can pass a constitutional challenge,” Raoul said.
Raoul did not say whether the pension committee’s job entails finding the votes needed to pass the proposal. Getting the 60 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate won’t be easy.
“All five (pension) systems need to go in if you are going to bring on more rank-and-file votes,” state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said. “And that has yet to be the case on any bill that has been filed, and has not been any part of the discussions … from the committee that has been working over the summer.”
Legislative leaders have said they expect Quinn to wrangle some votes. Quinn, though, isn’t saying how many votes he has found. Brady said, however, the end of the paycheck fight is a positive step toward pension reform.
“There is a greater likelihood (of a vote) now that lawmakers are going to be paid for their time,” he said.
Raoul said the special pension committee worked through a lot of “disagreements” to get “close” to a deal, although he declined to divulge details about the plan. Illinois lawmakers are due back for the fall veto session in October. The next regular session, when it would take just 60 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate to pass pension reform, is not scheduled until January.