Lawmakers called back to Springfield Aug. 17 to tackle pension reform
Friday, August 03, 2012
This week Gov. Pat Quinn scheduled a special legislative session for Aug. 17, calling lawmakers back to Springfield to act on reforms to Illinois’ state employee retirement systems.
In response Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) issued the following statement:
“We are encouraged by the Governor’s call for a special session on pension reform on August 17. As many people know, we have been and continue to be supportive of comprehensive pension reform that solves the major crisis facing us today. The time to act has been upon us. We are continuing to encourage Governor Quinn to take a leadership role to get a comprehensive pension bill passed in the General Assembly. We will continue to be available to discuss this very important matter in the coming weeks.”
Though Quinn is calling lawmakers back to pass pension reforms to reduce the $83 billion in liabilities associated with the state retirement systems, it’s uncertain what the outcome of the special session will be. The Governor didn’t outline what reforms he’d like lawmakers to consider, although Quinn has indicated in the past that he isn’t supportive of “partial” pension reform.
However, the pension reform measure passed by Senate lawmakers (House Bill 1447) during the Spring session would impact only state employees and state lawmakers. The House didn’t act on that measure before the General Assembly adjourned for the summer, but if the House was to consider the bill the likelihood of it passing is slim.
The State Constitution requires a three-fifths majority to pass any bill with an immediate effective date that is considered after the May 31 regular session deadline. Because House Bill 1447 has an immediate effective date if House lawmakers were to act on the measure it would require 71 votes—instead of the regular 60—to pass. Because of the contentious nature of the bill, finding those additional votes is thought to be difficult, if not impossible.
Additionally, Quinn continues to push a cost-shift proposal that would likely result in higher local property taxes for downstate and suburban homeowners. It would require local school districts and universities to pick-up the costs of their instructors’ retirement plans. Republicans have opposed the shift, pointing out that transferring Illinois’ pension obligations to the school districts will not save costs or reform the system, but simply shift costs from income taxes to property taxes.
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