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Quinn Pleased With ‘Positive’ Framework From Pension Committee

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Nancy Harty Nancy Harty
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn appears happy about the progress state lawmakers have been making on pension reforms.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the governor said he’s waiting to see the final recommendations from a 10-member conference committee working on pension reform, but the committee’s framework is “positive.”

“If we can erase the liability with a bill along the lines of what we’ve seen some concepts on, that’s really our ultimate goal,” he said.

Among the changes being considered by the bipartisan legislative panel would be an end to automatic 3 percent cost-of-living increases for retirees, and lowering increases to half the rate of inflation.

Increases also would be based on an employee’s salary over his or her entire career, rather than how much they’re making when they retire.

“I’ve been part of this discussion for two years, so some of the concepts are not new to me at all,” Quinn said.

When the pension committee failed to meet a deadline Quinn set in July, the governor halted lawmakers’ paychecks – and his own – until the legislature approves fixes to the state’s $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Asked if he’s ready to allow the state to pay lawmakers again, Quinn said “it has to get to my desk. They still have to vote on it, the legislature. I sure hope that they can expedite that.”

The 10-member committee includes five members of the House, and five members of the Senate – six Democrats and four Republicans – and has been working since mid-June to hammer out a compromise on pension reform.

The governor said he would only support a plan that would eliminate the unfunded pension debt.

“If you erase the liability and make sure it doesn’t happen again, that’s what we’re aiming for,” he said.

The House and Senate are not scheduled to meet again until late October, but the governor said he’d be prepared to call a special session before then if the votes appear to be there for a pension reform plan.

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