It appears Illinois lawmakers will wait until early next year to deal with the state’s pension crisis. That was the message from one of the state's top Democrats.
It has been long assumed lawmakers would put off trying to cut state employees’ and teacher pensions until after the election. To make powerful voting blocs like teachers’ and state employees’ union angry before an election wouldn’t be in politicians’ best interest.
Now, the strongest words yet from House Speaker Michael Madigan indicating a pension overhaul will wait, at least until November.
“I’m not planning on being in Springfield before the election, now I’m only one person down there but I don’t plan to be down in Springfield before the election” Madigan said Monday.
More likely, any action will wait until next year, when fewer votes are needed. Madigan pointed out, it was in January after a major election, that the the General Assembly passed other controversial measures like a death penalty ban and an income tax hike, the latter of which passed with only Democratic votes. He hinted that may happen again.
“Quite often that’s the end of the story. That we attempt to work with the Republicans, and at the end of the day, why we just call upon Democrats to do what has to be done” Madigan said.
On pensions, Madigan has previously suggested he would only push something through that included some Republican votes.
Both sides have said a comprehensive overhaul is needed. But they remain divided over shifting the cost of retirement benefits for downstate teachers and university employees.