As lawmakers return to Springfield this week, two working groups created by the governor are expected to release their findings. The Pension Working Group was charged with looking at which reforms could save the state money with future hires as well as current employees. State lawmakers have been grappling with the legality of cutting benefits for current employees, but Gov. Pat Quinn says something must be done as the five state pension systems are underfunded by more than $80 billion.
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“For too long in Illinois, units of government, including the state, were giving out pension benefits without the revenue to pay for them,” Quinn said. Also this week, Quinn will hear from a Medicaid Working Group which he created to look at ways to cut expenditures. Quinn wants to trim $2.7 billion from the system in Fiscal Year 2013, which begins July 1. “We’ll have to do hard things in order to get there,” Quinn said. He says without cuts, the whole system would collapse. Quinn has warned lawmakers not to plan on going home for the summer until the savings are accomplished. Meanwhile, a $1 per-pack cigarette tax increase is being considered by some lawmakers to help fund Medicaid. One proposal out of the governor’s office includes $1.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid, a cigarette tax hike and cuts to health care providers.