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CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn is enlisting the support of Chicago’s business community to sell his Medicaid and pension reform plans to state lawmakers before the Legislature adjourns at the end of this month.
WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports spoke to civic leaders at the City Club of Chicago on Monday, urging them to pressure the Illinois General Assembly to approve his proposals.
“Our state is really at a crossroads,” Quinn said, telling business leaders he can’t wait until next year to tackle the state’s Medicaid and pension problems, which are strangling the state’s budget.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports
“We’re not the Chicago Cubs. We’re not going to wait till another century,” Quinn said. “We’re going to do things and do them now, and we’re going to be like the White Sox were in 2005. Nobody expected them to win, and they won.”
In a case of politics making strange bedfellows, Quinn – who has forged longstanding ties with organized labor – now finds himself at odds with unions and in solidarity with the state’s business community, as he pushes for Medicaid and pension reforms.
“You take your friends wherever you can find them,” Quinn said. “If we don’t rescue our Medicaid system, there will be no healthcare for anybody. You know, if 3 million people lose their healthcare, that’s unacceptable. We have to rescue the system and make these difficult, but necessary reforms.”
The governor warned, if the state doesn’t act now on pension and Medicaid reform, those ballooning costs will squeeze out funding for other priorities such as education and roads. The state’s Medicaid system is facing a $2.7 billion deficit, while the state’s five pension systems have a combined shortfall of $83 billion on money owed to state workers who will retire in the coming years.