It appears lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are optimistic that public pension reform can be passed before the next General Assembly is seated. Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) say it’s possible to see public pension reform completed by Jan. 9, 2013. “I really feel that if we put our best efforts together in a bi-partisan way between now and the ninth of January, which is the end of this legislative session, we can accomplish this important mission,” Quinn said.
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While Cross says he hasn’t been in direct contact with other legislative leaders on the issue, he still believes it’s an issue that all lawmakers recognize. “It’s not a mystery to anybody, we need to fix it,” Cross said. “I think the sooner the better. I hope it’s done and believe it can be done in a bi-partisan, collaborative manner.” Asked about shifting the cost of teachers’and school employees’ pensions from the state to local school districts, Cross instead talked about tweaking the cost of living adjustments as a way to save the state money. Republicans oppose a cost shift, saying it would ultimately raise property taxes for suburban and Downstate residents. Chicago taxpayers already fund their teachers’ pensions.