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State

Madigan: Pensions remain most critical issue

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — House Speaker Michael Madigan says Illinois' pension crisis remains the most serious problem lawmakers face.

The Chicago Democrat addressed newly-sworn in House members Wednesday at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Madigan says it's a "terribly contentious" issue because any reform would be a change to what workers had been promised.

House lawmakers adjourned the lame-duck session Tuesday without calling for a vote on pension-related legislation.

On pensions, Madigan also stressed the importance of addressing what's known as the "cost-shift," where the state picks up downstate and suburban school district retirement costs.

Madigan calls it a "free lunch" that needs to be addressed.

The issue was a sticking point on pension talks. Madigan said earlier that he was willing to set it aside temporarily to accomplish some pension overhaul.

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