The Illinois Senate returned to Springfield Wednesday, with the public pension situation still unresolved. While most lawmakers agree public pension reform is necessary to help the state’s finances, they haven’t been able to agree on a specific plan. The governor offered a plan last year that failed to gain traction. University of Illinois political science professor Jim Edgar (pictured), who was governor 1991-99, says shuttle diplomacy may be the way to broker a deal among legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn.
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“They’re going to need to be in constant communication, whether it’s the four leaders and the governor sitting down or somebody from the governor’s staff shuttling back and forth … with the leaders,” Edgar said. “Sometimes when you have the four leaders and the governor in a room, nobody wants to make the first compromise so sometimes you do what we used to call shuttle diplomacy; you’d send one of the staff people up to talk to one of the leaders and say ‘well how about this’ and you’d try to get kind of a sense whether or not they might go with that. Nobody was going to agree to compromise unless they knew everybody else was going to agree to it because you don’t want to compromise with yourself.”
Edgar says the governor and the leaders are best to talk among themselves and not to the media. “Concentrate on talking to the leaders and not talking so much publicly right now and see what you can get done,” Edgar said. Quinn has given lawmakers until Jan. 9 at noon to agree on a pension reform deal – that’s when the new General Assembly elected in November is sworn in.