SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Gov. Pat Quinn scolded lawmakers who didn’t report back with a solution to Illinois’ pension crisis by his Tuesday deadline and warned of consequences for them and the state.
The Chicago Democrat had been pushing July 9 – the same day Illinois had to meet a court-mandated deadline to legalize concealed carry – as a target for a bipartisan panel to report back with a plan. That was even as members of the so-called conference committee formed last month called his deadline “arbitrary” and “irresponsible.” It was widely expected that they’d blow past the deadline.
Still, Quinn said they haven’t done enough and things should have been done earlier.
“They let the people of Illinois down,” he told reporters. “They let the taxpayers down.”
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability, the nation’s worst, because lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments to the state’s five retirement systems for decades. Inaction on solving the problem has led to repeated credit rating downgrades as well as a national embarrassment.
The committee was formed after lawmakers adjourned a special session last month as both the House and Senate remained divided on two plans. So far, the 10-member group has held three hearings, most recently Monday in Springfield. Members say they’re looking for a plan that’s been reviewed by actuaries, which will take some time, and have been exploring ideas outside the two plans.
“We don’t need any more excuses,” he said. We don’t need any more alibis.”
He warned of consequences but declined to say exactly what he’d do. However, when asked, he didn’t deny the possibility of cutting legislative salaries from a pending budget bill.
Quinn has yet to sign legislation that would put parts of the state budget in place. If he doesn’t sign it, the comptroller won’t be able to issue paychecks to numerous state employees. Quinn’s spokeswoman Brooke Anderson would only say the governor is reviewing the bill. He has until July 15 to sign it.
The bill is HB214.