Earlier today, Gov. Pat Quinn had an open letter to the people of Illinois published in the State Journal-Register. The focus was on the issue of pensions. Quinn called on Illinoisans to reach out to their legislators and press them to come up with a strong pension plan by his July 9 deadline. Last week, Quinn and legislative leaders agreed to form a conference committee, which is tasked with coming up with a comprehensive pension reform plan that is agreeable to both chambers.
In his open letter, Quinn warned that he "will veto any legislation that does not erase the pension debt and provide 100 percent funding for the systems." Read his full message below:
Dear Illinois taxpayers:
I’ve always been honest with you.
I write to you today , it’s been nearly two y ears since I made pension
reform the top priority for Illinois. I’ve been fighting for it ever
I convened a pension working group in January 2012 and
proposed a comprehensive pension reform plan three months later. I’ve
worked across the aisle, called special sessions, set numerous deadlines and released several studies on the consequences of inaction on education and the economy.
Time and time again, I’ve met at length with legislators and leaders, and pressed them to vote for comprehensive pension reform.
Yet here we are today.
If I could resolve this by executive order, I would have done it long ago. But I cannot act alone.
General Assembly must do its part and send me a bill that defuses the
pension crisis. Despite my best efforts, the speaker of the House and
the Senate president failed to work together to put a bill on my desk.
So last week I proposed a conference committee, a mechanism that
historically has been used to break gridlock between the House and the
Senate on contentious issues.
The good news is they agreed on this means to the end. But now, it’s time for the heavy lifting.
have set July 9 as the final deadline to come up with a comprehensive
pension reform bill that both chambers can support. My staff will
continue working around the clock to provide the research and fiscal
analysis necessary for members of the committee to get this job done.
me be clear: I will veto any legislation that does not erase the
pension debt and provide 100 percent funding for the systems. From day
one, this fundamental principle has been at the core of every pension
reform bill I have backed.
Illinois currently has the
worst-funded pension systems in the nation. Any solution that does not
turn that statistic around is simply not good enough.
us to Springfield to solve problems — not to dilly-dally with partial
solutions. Now, some in the General Assembly already are suggesting new
excuses as to why they may not be able to make the July 9 deadline:
“We need more time to get the numbers right …”
“We need extra days to negotiate …”
“The problem took decades to create and cannot be solved overnight …”
with the alibis. We’ve discussed, debated and negotiated pension reform
to death. The numbers have been crunched and crunched again. And taxpayers have been bearing the cost for these excuses, delays and blown
In fact, every time legislators have missed deadlines for pension reform, you have paid the price.
the General Assembly ’s failure to send me a bill by May 31, our credit
rating was downgraded twice in one week — by both Moody ’s and Fitch —
to its lowest point in Illinois’ 195-year history .
squeeze already has forced $2 billion in education cuts and $3 billion
in social service cuts. The state of Illinois is currently on track to
be spending more on public pensions than on schools, which denies our
children their right to a quality education. Not to mention, Illinois’
economic recovery is being held hostage by longstanding legislative
Fortunately , members of the conference committee are
experienced and capable legislators. I expect them and the rest of the
General Assembly to get their jobs done by July 9. The people of
Illinois are counting on it.
And one more thing: I will continue
to be relentless — pushing, prodding and forcing this issue until the
General Assembly sends me a bill.
I also ask you to do your part.
Contact your state legislators today . Call them, email them, tweet
them now. Visit http://mylegislators.illinois.gov to find your
legislators’ names and contact information. Tell them to support a
comprehensive bill that erases the pension debt and provides 100 percent
funding for the pension sy stems. Tell them to get their job done by
I will continue fighting for you.
Gov. Pat Quinn