Reporting Mike Krauser
CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn has called out the state’s top two Democratic legislative leaders over the General Assembly’s inaction on pension reform.
The House and Senate adjourned last week at the end of their regular session without passing a comprehensive pension reform package, and Quinn called House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton for failing to address the state’s pension crisis.
“I’m going to keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing,” Quinn said after meeting with Cullerton in Chicago on Tuesday.
The governor said Madigan and Cullerton must put aside their differences on how to approach the pension problem, and approve a plan to reform the state’s public employee pension systems.
Cullerton and Madigan have offered competing plans to address the pension crisis, but the Senate overwhelmingly rejected Madigan’s plan, arguing it was unconstitutional. The House never voted on Cullerton’s plan.
Some think the inaction on pension reform has been deliberate, meant to hurt Quinn politically.
“This is not about politics. I think it’s very, very important that we put taxpayers first, and only taxpayers,” Quinn said.
The governor had invited Cullerton and Madigan to a meeting at his Chicago office, but Madigan wasn’t available to attend.
“Mike Madigan does not have a cell phone, so when he is available, we will express to him the same thing I told John Cullerton today,” Quinn said.
As for calling a special session, it would appear that won’t happen unless there’s some agreement going in, and that has proved elusive.
The fallout from Springfield’s failure to pass pension reform could lead to new political candidates on the ballot here and across the state, including a familiar name who has been considering a run to challenge Governor Quinn.
“I have repeatedly that I’m seriously thinking about it and after the fiasco of last week I am even more determined to make a decision shortly,” said William Daley, brother of the former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “We’ll see in the next week or so.”
Daley says a lack of leadership on the part of Pat Quinn is the main reason pension reform has failed repeatedly.
“The truth is there is only one person who is elected statewide to be the head of the government and that is the governor. The individual legislators represent their district. One person has to fight to bring a coalition together,” said Daley.
At City Hall today, after announcing a GOP campaign to field a slate of candidates for local races in Chicago, Republican leaders had their own read on what’s holding things up.
“I don’t blame the Governor. I know he’s from a different party, but the reality is we have a responsibility as members of the General Assembly to get a bill to his desk,” said House Minority Leader Tom Cross