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Ill. Gov. Quinn To Suspend Lawmakers' Pay Over Pension Crisis

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn, pictured here at his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 10, 2011.

Updated 11:55 a.m. with reporting by Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey.

Governor Pat Quinn Wednesday used his veto power to eliminate salaries for Illinois legislators. Quinn says until lawmakers fix the state's pension problem, they shouldn't get paid.

On Illinois' $100 billion unfunded pension liability Quinn has been setting deadlines for more than a year.

Until now, there haven't been any direct consequences for lawmakers when they've blown each of those deadlines.

Quinn changed that today in a big way.

"The legislators should not get paid until they enact comprehensive public pension reform," Quinn says.

Many legislators have made pensions a priority, but they're divided over just how to solve the problem. A small group of key senators and representatives have been negotiating a compromise this summer. They say it takes time to get their ideas analyzed to figure out just how much money could be saved -- and that it would be irresponsible to vote on a fix without first doing the math.

Quinn, however, says that's just an "excuse."

"They must have that alarm bell ringing in their ears," Quinn says. "And the best way to do that is to hit them in the wallet."

Lawmakers aren't scheduled to get paychecks until later this month. They could reconvene in Springfield at any time and vote to restore their pay.

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