Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky.
In his annual budget address today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn laid the blame on the General Assembly for forcing him to cut spending on schools and other key state priorities. Quinn says the cost of pensions is "squeezing" Illinois' finances, to the point that he's calling for a $400 million hit to education.
Reporting from Amanda Vinicky from Illinois Public Radio.
A new session of the Illinois General Assembly begins today, when candidates who won in November's elections take the oath of office. The outgoing class of legislators left the incoming one with quite a burden.
Tuesday night, the previous General Assembly adjourned without doing anything to reduce Illinois' $97 billion pension debt, though there were a few last minute tries.
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has said repeatedly his top priority is dealing with the state’s pensions - the worst- funded in the country. He’s held countless press conferences and made the argument that pension costs take away money for other state programs.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross says proposals to deal with the pension funds have been around for two years.
"We’ve talked about these to a point where we don’t need to talk any more," said Cross. "We’ve got to do this."
Negotiations for a complete overhaul of Illinois' underfunded pension systems continue. But the president of the state Senate is again pushing a measure his chamber approved months ago.
Governor Pat Quinn has been adamant that something pass before the General Assembly's current session ends for good on Wednesday.
In May, the Senate passed legislation that reduces state workers' and legislators' own retirement benefits. But the House never took it up. Senate President John Cullerton says representatives should do so when they return to Springfield on Sunday.
The Illinois Senate returns to the Capitol on Wednesday to begin a weeklong legislative session that could take up pension reform, legalizing gay marriage and banning assault rifles.
The 97th General Assembly will finish its work Jan. 9 when a new Legislature is sworn in. That means there are many lame-duck lawmakers not returning who might feel less constrained to vote for contentious issues. The House comes in Sunday.
Gov. Pat Quinn has made it a priority for the assembly to find a solution to the state employee retirement programs that are underfunded by $96 billion.
The chances of quick action on Illinois' pension problems are growing slimmer.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday that he believes a pension overhaul can be passed by the end of the legislative session, which is in January. The Democratic governor wants action "as soon as possible," but his remarks did not suggest that will happen this fall.
His comments come a day after Senate President John Cullerton told the Chicago Tribune he doesn't think a pension overhaul can pass until January, when legislative rules mean passage requires fewer votes.