Gov. Pat Quinn is trying to prod lawmakers to act on pension reform, but he has his doubts that his message is sinking in. The governor made a six-stop bill-signing tour around the state on Tuesday, visiting Chicago, Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Decatur and Mount Vernon. Thursday morning, he said the lawmakers he encountered, or whose comments he read in the next day’s newspapers, do not share his sense of urgency.
“You know I was a little disappointed on some of the legislators, reading the paper the next day. They think this is something they can take their own sweet time on. I don’t think so. I think every place I go, especially talking to employers, they want our state and our legislators to take charge here, to take action,” he said. The governor’s office says the unfunded pension liability of $83 billion will go up by another billion by Election Day, and another $10 billion by this time next year, unless the laws are changed.
A special session of the General Assembly is scheduled for Aug. 17. As yet, there’s no deal for lawmakers to consider when they get to Springfield. The sticking point in pension reform talks is whether school districts should have to shoulder the cost of pensions they award to their retirees – something on which the governor insists, but that lawmakers say would be burdensome to school districts.