Illinois Lawmaker Reacts to Pension Stalemate

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Illinois lawmakers met Wednesday for another special session and yet again, they didn’t agree on a permanent plan to fix the most underfunded pension system in the country.

The only decision made was to form a bi-partisan committee made of 10 lawmakers to try to end the stalemate.

“I don’t think there has been a conference committee in the history of Illinois that is more important than this one,” Governor Pat Quinn said.

The committee will look at two specific plans; Senate Bill 1, which has already failed once and Senate Bill 2404, which passed the senate but wasn’t called to be voted on in the house.  The failure to vote of the bill left State Representative Mike Smiddy from Port Byron very frustrated.

“We go down there and we are not allowed to vote on a bill that more than likely would have gotten 80 votes going out of the house,” Rep. Smiddy says. “It could have went to the governor’s desk and we could be done with pension reform so I am not very happy with how the process has been going.”

Governor Pat Quinn says he would like a decision to be made by July 9th.  Rep. Smiddy says he is not as optimistic as the governor but he does hope the committee can move the state in the right direction.

“Get this behind us because there are big issues coming up and while still having this on our plate, we aren’t going to be able to do anything.  It is time that we as legislators start to do our job instead of maybe always worrying about trying to keep our job,” Smiddy says.

Illinois is over 100 billion in the red and racks up another 17 million in interest each day.  The Illinois Policy Institute claims the state's pension payments currently eat up 19% of yearly state revenues, compared to the national average of just 4%.