As lawmakers prepare for a Special Session day this week, there’s still no indication that a deal has been reached among legislative leaders on changes to pension laws. Without an agreement, some legislative leaders are calling Friday’s Special Session a waste of time. But Gov. Pat Quinn argues that much has been accomplished already and remains hopeful that a pension reform deal can be reached.
“I’m optimistic,” Quinn said. “You have to be optimistic if you’re governor of Illinois when you meet the people of our state you have to be optimistic. The people are good and true. We don’t want to let the parents and the children down in Illinois.” He points to accomplishments made in Springfield since he took office. “I’ve been told many times in my life that something can’t be done and lo and behold it did get done. For example, abolishing those political scholarships. That went on for quite a while. We got that law passed this year. We also were able to restructure Medicaid. I was told ‘that’s dead on arrival, [you] can’t raise the cigarette tax, that can’t be done in a million years in Illinois.’ We did it this year,” Quinn said. Quinn wants to overhaul the state’s five public pension systems. The state Senate has passed a bill to overhaul two systems. The state’s unfunded pension debt totals $83 billion.