The Illinois General Assembly’s pension conference committee will host its first public hearing Thursday in Chicago.
committee, created during the special session last week, is comprised
of five members of the Illinois House and five members of the
The group is responsible for addressing
Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension debt that threatens to consume
funding for education and other services.
is at an impasse because it has become a pitched battle between two
priorities: constitutionality and maximum savings,” State Sen. Kwame
Raoul (D-Chicago), chair of the committee, said in a statement. “The
final product won’t be anyone’s ideal outcome, but I’m optimistic that
with open minds and an awareness of the price of inaction, we can report
back with a plan that respects the constitution and fosters long-term
Gov. Pat Quinn has given lawmakers a July 9 deadline to draft pension reform legislation.
conference committee gives us an opportunity to move forward on a
comprehensive pension stabilization plan that is constitutional and
fair,” State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), a member of the committee, said in a statement. “I will
continue to advocate for people who have spent their lives serving the
people of Illinois. During these negotiations, we must be conscious of
the rights of working men and women as well as the economic security of
retirees. Of course, this issue is about the state’s finances, but we
should remember it is also about people’s lives.”
committee to issue a formal plan, six of the 10 committee members must
accept a proposal. The legislation would then require approval from both
chambers in the Illinois General Assembly before advancing to Quinn’s
Along with Raoul and Holmes, members from the
Illinois Senate include State Sens. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), Bill Brady
(R-Bloomington) and Matt Murphy (R-Palatine). Committee members from
the Illinois House include State Reps. Elaine Netritz (D-Northbrook),
Art Turner (D-Chicago), Mike Zalewski (D-Summit), Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) and Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).
members have supported one of two bills, sponsored by either House
Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) or Senate President John Cullerton
(D-Chicago), which failed to pass during the spring legislative session.
attempts to enact significant pension reform have hit a genuine
roadblock in Springfield, and by creating a conference committee, we
have taken a meaningful step in order to address this growing crisis,"
Biss said in a statement. "Like many others, I have strong feelings
about the pension reform proposals we've seen in the recent past, but we
must all recognize that none of these proposals is likely to move
forward without significant compromise. I am eager to work with my
colleagues to finally find a solution that addresses our legal and
ethical concerns yet still achieves adequate savings."
The public hearing will be held at the Bilandic Building in Chicago at 11 a.m.