The Republican leader in the Illinois House doesn’t think there will be a deal on pension reforms when a Special Session convenes this week in Springfield. House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) doesn’t think much will get done when lawmakers gather on Friday.
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“I don’t think that at the end of the day, as much as I think it would be nice to say we’ve got an agreement on pension reform, I don’t think that realistically [is] going to happen. It doesn’t mean there’s anybody bad, it’s just hard for folks to agree to this kind of issue. It’s very controversial and it has an impact on folks, so I don’t expect there to be a quote agreement,” Cross said.
While he doesn’t think an agreement can come about in a day Cross does think the issue must be dealt with now. “I would encourage [the governor], if nothing happens on Friday, to call us back,” Cross said. “This needs to happen. It doesn’t need to happen after the election. It needs to happen now. It only gets worse; it doesn’t get better so call us back to Special Session.” Cross says his approach is to “put us in a room, lock the key and when we’re done you let us out.”
Cross and other Republicans are against a plan that would shift some pension burdens for suburban and Downstate teachers from the state to school districts. As far as a Senate proposal that would focus on reforming two of the state’s five pension systems goes, Cross says it just “nibbles around the edges” and must go further. He also fears legal repercussions because some have concerns of the constitutionality of the bill.