Gov. Pat Quinn is putting together a think tank to look at ways to deal with the state’s failing pension system. On Monday, Quinn sent letters to legislative leaders asking them to appoint members to a commission to look at ways the state can make up on 30 years of back payments owed to the state retirement systems. He says it’s one of his top priorities and he hopes to have some legislation in place by the end of the spring session that would deal with the issue.
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“Our time has come. Our rendezvous with pension reality will come this year,” Quinn said. He emphasizes that pension reforms must be constitutional. Even with some pension reforms already enacted, the state currently has an unfunded pension liability of more than $85 billion. That statistic, according to Moody’s, is why the bond rating company downgraded the state’s rating. The downgrade comes ahead of the state’s $800 million bond sale Wednesday to continue funding the capital construction plan. Meanwhile, Standard and Poor’s didn’t downgrade the state but warned investors that it has a negative outlook on the state’s future and pointed to plans Quinn has been pushing to borrow $8 billion to pay off state bills.