SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today set Tuesday, July 9, as the deadline for legislators to act on comprehensive pension reform. Today’s announcement follows the General Assembly’s vote to establish a conference committee, an idea proposed by the governor last Friday to break the legislative gridlock. The governor proposed a conference committee to bridge the differences between the House and the Senate, and forge agreement on a comprehensive pension reform plan.
Lack of action by the General Assembly on the pension crisis is hurting taxpayers, harming our economy and shortchanging our children. Illinois’ credit rating was downgraded recently twice in one week.
“This is an emergency and the taxpayers of Illinois are depending on the General Assembly to produce a real solution that erases our pension debt and supports economic growth,” Governor Quinn said. “As I’ve repeatedly made clear, taxpayers cannot afford gridlock on this paramount issue.”
“I’m encouraged to see Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton in agreement on a means to the end. Now they must work together in good faith to put a comprehensive pension reform bill on my desk,” Quinn added.
The governor met with leaders of the four legislative caucuses today and asked them to quickly appoint their members to the conference committee and propose a comprehensive pension reform bill by July 9. Leaders agreed to extend today’s special session, and immediately convene the committee. The governor directed his staff and budget analysts to continue working with legislators to provide extensive policy support throughout the process.
As he has for almost two years, the governor again made clear that he will not approve any legislation that does not erase the pension debt and provide 100 percent funding for the systems.
Governor Quinn has made pension reform the top priority for the state of Illinois for almost two years. Since he convened a pension working group in January 2012, he has proposed comprehensive solution after solution, worked across the aisle, called special sessions, set deadline after deadline, and released study after study on the dire impact of inaction on education and our economy. He has met at length, countless times, with the leaders and legislators on this issue and fought hard to pass Senate Bill 1.
The governor has repeatedly rejected piecemeal and insufficient pension bills that did not result in necessary savings. Last week he proposed the conference committee as a vehicle to break legislative gridlock.
Members of the pension reform conference committee will work together to resolve differences between the House and the Senate. When a majority of committee members reach agreement, they will issue a pension reform amendment to the General Assembly for further action.
In the past, conference committees were often used to break gridlock on issues, including the 2005 Non-Discrimination bill, which made Illinois one of only fourteen states that prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation.