SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn, who has beaten the drum for pension reform since taking office in 2009, lashed out at the state Legislature’s two Democratic leaders for engaging in a “game” that failed this spring to solve the state’s nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
“The people of Illinois want the General Assembly to put comprehensive pension reform on my desk,” Quinn said in a prepared statement after the Illinois House adjourned for the summer. “They do not want legislative leaders to play a $17 million-a-day game with the future of our state, our children and our economy.”
Quinn mocked efforts by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) for entertaining a legislative bid by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to secure a two-year break from making pension payments to the Chicago teachers retirement fund.
“There is something wrong in Illinois when the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate could join together to propose a pension holiday for Chicago, yet they could not send a comprehensive pension reform bill to my desk,” the governor said.
Quinn cited a report from a Moody’s Investor Services analyst who hinted at another bond-rating downgrade to sink Illinois’ already worst-in-the-nation creditworthiness even farther.
The governor didn’t directly address the prospect of a special legislative session to deal with pensions like the one-day session he called last August that led to nothing. While a senior aide earlier this week all but ruled out the possibility, Quinn’s camp was reassessing that thinking late Friday.
“I can confirm for you that everything is on the table,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.
In his statement, Quinn said he intended within days to convene a meeting with the four legislative leaders to figure out the next step in the state’s long-enduring fiscal saga.
“This is wrong,” Quinn said. “I will call the legislative leaders together in the coming week to forge a comprehensive pension reform agreement.”