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Ill. Legislature Agrees To Form Committee To Solve Pension Crisis

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The pension debt stands at $100 billion, costing taxpayers $17 million a day.

CBS 2′s Chief Correspondent Jay Levine takes a look at what the 10 member conference committee appointed today hopes to accomplish.

It took five minutes. Four in the Senate just 60 seconds in the House to set up the pension reform conference committee that everyone hopes will do the trick. Though what happened just before it seemed like a troubling omen.

The fire alarms and evacuation message, which sounded as the lawmakers were due to assemble was symbolic of the urgency required to reform the pension system.

As the governor would say a bit later, “Now is the moment of truth.”

But the reaction to the alarms, many just standing around talking, was also symbolic of how lawmakers have dealt with pension reform. As the senate president and house speaker remained deadlocked over their competing pension reform plans.

“We anticipate this won’t just be a rehash of the same thing we already voted on. We hope to have a compromise,” said Senate President John Cullerton.

In an exclusive interview in his expansive Springfield office, House Speaker Michael Madigan also seemed to indicate that this might be the time for compromise.

“We both resolve that there must be a bill. That is a significant first step. Having done that, now we move to where the compromises will occur, what kind of concessions can be taken from each side,” said Madigan.

The governor called it the function of the conference committee that he’d proposed on Friday.

“The conference committee is that crowbar necessary to break the gridlock,” Quinn said.

He’s demanding the conference committee have a bill on his desk by July 9, but Madigan said he hoped to have something done a day or two before then.

Some believe that given the fourth of July holiday ten working days may not be enough time. If it isn’t? The governor vows to send them back and call them back all summer long until they get the job done.

By law legislators had to be there to vote to establish the conference committee. That cost taxpayers $40,000 in per diems for lawmakers, a few of whom declined the payment.

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