The new lawmakers in the General Assembly say the focus of this term should be on Illinois’ financial problems. State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove, pictured), who had previously run for Congress, governor and U.S. Senate, says, “I am here to try and do what I can to help solve Illinois’ financial problems.”
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One of the biggest issues is pensions, with Illinois’ systems under funded by an estimated $96 billion. Even though protesters rallied at the Capitol and the governor wanted a pension bill passed before the new General Assembly was seated Wednesday, no pension reform was passed. State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) says pensions should be a priority: “We really have to find something that’s fair to workers and that’s also going to move us forward as a state,” he said. Of the General Assembly’s 177 members, 33 are serving for the first time.