Updated with comments from Quinn, statement from GOP leaders
Illinois state lawmakers now know when they'll have to return to Springfield to wrestle with the state's financially-strapped pension system.
Gov. Pat Quinn today announced an Aug. 17 legislative session for lawmakers to push forward with "full-scale reform." House members were already scheduled to meet that to vote on whether to expel indicted Democratic Rep. Derrick Smith.
An overhaul of the system has been on hold all summer as negotiations between Republicans and Democrats got bogged down in issues like school funding. And it failed in the session that ended in May over disputes about requiring school districts other than Chicago to cover their own retirement costs.
In a speech at the City Club of Chicago on Monday, Quinn reiterated his call for changing suburban and downstate pensions, emphasizing a proposed 12-year phase-in. Republicans object, saying it will only lead to tax increases at the local level. but Quinn argues the real trigger for tax increases is the reduced general fund support for education caused by rising pension costs.
But Quinn sidestepped the issue of whether legislators are now ready to vote.
"I think the way to look at it over these next couple of weeks is for the people to put pressure on the legislature, and I think this is a good time to say that this is a crying need of our state," he said. "We must act."
In a statement, the General Assembly’s top Republicans said they were encouraged by the call for a special session, but urged the governor to take a leadership role.