Emanuel, Quinn Call For Major Pension Reform

CHICAGO (CBS) — They laughed, they joked, and even more surprising, they agreed on most issues – unlike other Chicago mayors and Illinois governors in recent years.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine was at Wednesday night’s forum hosted by the Chicago Tribune, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn agreed the ticking time bomb of underfunded public employee pensions is threatening to explode – or implode, as the governor put it.

“What I would say to all of the union members, on the pension, if we don’t reform this, there won’t be a pension, because the system will implode,” Quinn said.

Emanuel echoed that stance when it comes to underfunded city pensions.

“If we don’t fix this, across the five funds for the city of Chicago, property taxes will have to go up 150 percent,” he said. “I will not raise property taxes 150 percent. You won’t recruit a business, you won’t recruit a family to move here. It’s just not gonna happen, so we have to make changes.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

The mayor said, starting Thursday, a new city website will show Chicago residents exactly how much they could be on the hook if there isn’t significant reform of the public pension system.

Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green said there is at least one other prominent Illinois politician who must get on board to achieve real pension reform – House Speaker Mike Madigan.

“One name wasn’t mentioned that should have been: Speaker Madigan. So, if they can get him on board, they got a shot,” Green said.

The governor hinted that negotiation, rather than legislation, might be the answer to constitutional questions some have raised over whether any significant pension reform could be applied to existing government employees.

The Illinois Constitution states that pension benefits of public employees “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

The governor said, “If members of the pension system make an exchange – agree to changes – then that can comply with the Constitution.”

For the most part, the mayor and governor were in agreement, although when it came to a casino for Chicago – blocked by the Quinn’s resistance to slot machines at Illinois racetracks, a key provision to winning legislative approval of a Chicago casino – the mayor put his foot down.

“I don’t want the city of Chicago, the casinos, caught between the governor’s view and certain things as it relates to ‘racinos’ (racetracks with slot machines),” Emanuel said.

As for hints of a deal between the Mayor and Chicago Cubs owners on renovating Wrigley Field, by using amusement tax revenue to help fund the upgrades, the governor wasn’t so sure.

“I think the mayor and I are on the same wavelength. We don’t think the team should have the public pay for fixing up their stadium,” Quinn said.

“It’s a private company, they bought. They bought it in 2009, eyes open, well aware,” Emanuel added.

Aides to the mayor stressed that a deal is in the works — but not finalized — that could help the Cubs renovate Wrigley without hurting taxpayers.

As for pension reform, the governor is waiting for a report from a working group looking into possible changes, while the mayor suggested temporarily suspending cost of living increases. But no one is implying a deal there is anywhere near imminent.

  • Sickened

    “”Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn agreed the ticking time bomb of underfunded public employee pensions is threatening to explode – or implode, as the governor put it.””

    Are these people for real??
    The state is already bankrupt, they have a lousy credit rating causing super high loan rates. They already doubled our tax rate to pay for these lavish pensions, ridiculous salaries, retireing at 52 and it’s still not enough. Ticking Time Bomb? It already went off and we’re all getting cancer from the fallout.

    The only thing they can do is what Wisconsin did and they’re trying to recall the Gov for doing it.

    • Mike W

      lavish pensions? try checking facts first. the pension system is underfunded because the state has used it as an atm – teachers, police officers, etc. have ALWAYS made their payments, the state NEVER has made a full payment into the system, and now they want us to pay for it.

      • Makes Me Sick

        Have checked the facts. Used to work in a Pension office. Nobody in the private sector gets to retire when their in their early 50’s with 75% of their pay. How many drivers ed teachers do you know in the private sector that make $140,000 a year and retire with $100,000? Gym teachers making $160,000 and retire with $120k.

        We all love how they save up sick & vacation then get that added to the total amount. What private pension gets to do that?

        Paying into the system??? Who wouldn’t be willing to pay what you guys do to get pensions like that? The amount you people put in no way matches what you get out.

        I’ve got a couple down the street, both retired school teachers. Over $200,000 in pensions. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

        And you think that state can continue this and taxpayers should fund it?

    • Bob

      Dont fortget that Chicago city workers and the Board of Education employees DO NOT pay into social security so their pensions are all they have for retirement. This is the agreement the politicians made with city workers. The politicians like Daley did not keep their promise and continue to fund the pensions while the workers did. And of course the Politicians had to stick their fingers in the pension funds to “Borrow” money and never pay it back. Now they act like its the city workers fault. ALL of the money problems of this country is caused by the politicians. Most politicians are millionaires and cannot understand how it would be to live from paycheck to paycheck. I see riots comming soon. Let the people vote on everything the crooket politicians vote on.

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      F you Sickened! I hope that you work until the day that you die, alone.

  • tom sharp

    This mess was created by the Democrats with Madigan right in the middle of it. Now, in this crazy state, Rahm and the Mighty Quinn have to go hat-in-hand to that same Madigan and beg him to let them fix it. This is as far from Democracy and sanity as a state can get! Impeqch them all!!!

    • elizabethlee

      Impeach them? This is an untouchable, corrupt party…has been, will be as long as there is a two party system.

      Chicagoans like getting their buttocks kicked….the polls prove it.

  • tony the tiger

    i have had enough. im not going to lie to myself. when the police break the law and the politicians break the law better believe their is no law only a fight for your survival. i dont need someone to kick in my door to tell me were living in a police state. this mess was created by corrupt politicians and judges.who are out for their own personal selfish agendas.it truly is time to fight.corrupt authority will not yield anything unless their is a demand.because they have the excuse or cloak “nobody said or did anything so we thought everything was okay”.fight back and their is no excuse. people will see their is discourse!

  • Just Axin

    These POS got us into this mess and now they’re going to pretend to be our friends? They’re afraid to take on the unions because the unions put them in power. Sorry retirees, but you’re going to have to cough up more cash for health care, no more COLA, etc. How can a fund sustain itself if the retiree makes back what he contributed in 5 years, with the rest being gravy until he dies? Sorry workers (past and present) it’s not your fault, but something has to change. These politicans haven’t lived up to the promises they made and the funds they raided, but taxpayers can’t be asked to come up with more $.

    • PG

      “These POS got us into this mess and now they’re going to pretend to be our friends?” – yup, that is exactly what they are doing. Politicians are the only group of people who can create a mess, then campaign to fix the mess (while blaming someone else for making the mess), and then try to make themselves look like heros when they finally start to fix the mess. I agree with your statement…it is not the workers fault, but the politicians that THEY voted for.

  • john

    why wont you let me post?

  • john

    Like everyone else they should do their own 401k

  • tony

    pigs .Mike Madigan should rot in hell for making this mess

  • joey

    come nato….let the city burn to the ground with the mayor and his crooks.

  • Travel Insurance Galway

    @ Tony you are crazy, Might they have feel to be the right decisions

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