The Illinois House minority leader has been asked to keep an open mind when it comes to public pension reform. House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) met with the governor Tuesday for lunch where he says talked turned to “the issue of the day,” pension reform.
“He’s talked about S.B. 1. He’s talked about this A and B idea. He said would you just keep an open mind on any other ideas we might have and of course we will,” Cross said. “I think the guy’s trying and he wants to get it done. The commitment I made to him is I think we have to do something significant… but I will remain open. I want to work with the speaker, I want to work with the president, I want to work with the governor. We’ve got to get this done.”
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The A and B idea would take a House pension reform plan and a Senate pension reform plan and roll them into one bill in hopes that one of the two plans would survive a legal challenge. While he’s keeping an open mind, Cross believes a pension reform plan passed by the House and sent to the Senate remains the most cost saving of all proposals.
Meanwhile, Cross was asked if the House speaker and Senate president were working together to make sure nothing happens with pension reform. His answer was yes. “The two most powerful guys in the State of Illinois can get anything done. They pass a tax increase in the middle of the night, highest tax increase in the history of the state, two guys that passed a pension holiday in the mid-2000s without blinking an eye, can’t get this done? Seriously, seriously, of course they can get it done and for them to sit there…I think we’re seeing an example of great tap dance and if they want to get it done, they can get it done,” Cross said.
While he wouldn’t get into the politics of why leaders haven’t already passed pension reform, Cross again reiterated that if the two Democrats wanted to “get something done they can get it [done].”
Some Republicans have speculated that the House speaker isn’t budging on pension reform because he is setting up a scenario where his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would run for governor, and benefit from pension reform inaction. That theory has been denied by top Democrats and by the attorney general, who called the theory “absurd.”