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Pension Clock Ticking As Lawmakers Convene In Springfield

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol (CBS)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair was a little different this year: part pep rally, part posturing prior to Friday’s special session on pension reform.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

“They want to raise our property taxes to help fix a broken pension system,” Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) told the crowd.

It’s that kind of rhetoric that frustrates advocates pushing pension reform.

“It’s unadulterated nonsense. Everybody talks a great game, they go nowhere,” Ty Fahner says.

“We are slipping down from beyond a crisis into what is now a catastrophe,” agrees Laurence Msall, head of the Civic Federation, which has examined the problem for years.

Gov. Pat Quinn has called both parties’ leaders to his office at 10 a.m. Friday to stress that unless they do something, by 2016 Illinois will be forced to spend more on pension payments than education.

Quinn was booed by demonstrating unions at the state fair Wednesday. Pension reform isn’t popular with the powerful labor unions, which, some believe, is why lawmakers won’t pass it before the November elections – if at all.

Barring some dramatic and unforeseen breakthrough, lawmakers will leave the state’s pension mess the same way they found it, with the doomsday clock still ticking.

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