The top Republican in the Illinois House of Representatives says he thinks Democratic leaders are purposely not passing pension reform for their own political gain.
There are lots of conspiracies for why pension reform hasn’t been approved.
One is that it’s purely a legal debate over how to interpret the constitution.
Another - is that the powerful House Speaker and state Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan - is stalling because it would somehow help his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to become governor in next year’s election.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn “Desperately needs a win” on pension reform. That’s the conclusion of political scientist Kent Redfield. The U of I - Springfield professor spoke ahead of next week’s special session on pensions, which Quinn ordered. Redfield says the Governor repeatedly blamed pension costs for the state's budget problems. If no agreement is reached, Redfield says, Quinn will look weak going into next year’s primary election:
Illinois Democrats continued approving a new state budget on party-line votes. The Senate approved spending plans for education -- from elementary and high schools to colleges and universities -- with funding pretty much at last year's level.
Cuts proposed earlier this year by Governor Pat Quinn did not materialize, partly because Illinois collected more tax money than it expected in April.
Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, says funding for higher education is critical because it's tied to the problem of unemployment.
There's a lot of angst, uproar and fussing at the capitol over what's happening with the state's pension systems.
What legislators do about it will have ramifications for the Illinois budget, as well as for state employees' and teachers' pocketbooks - not to mention politicians' own political and financial futures.
Although they're facing budget cuts, universities and community colleges say they're willing to begin taking on employees' pension costs. The state covers the employers' share of retirement benefits for Illinois' public schools, colleges and universities.
Retired state employees and teachers would see their pensions reduced under the latest measure approved in the Illinois House. The plan restricts the cost of living adjustments retirees receive, applying the bumps only to a retirees' first $25,000 in pension benefits.
A pair of pension measures met success in the Illinois House. It's the first time the House passed legislation that could have a significant impact on state employees' retirement benefits, as well as that of teachers and university workers.