Illinois General Assembly’s today passed historic comprehensive pension reform, which Governor Pat Quinn says will "erase the unfunded pension debt and provide 100 percent funding for the systems." The Illinois House and Senate each passed a controversial comprehensive pension reform bill in relatively fashion this afternoon.
The two votes were just moments apart. The Illinois Senate passed the bill by a 30-24 vote, with three senators voting present. The House passed the bill by a vote of 62-53, with one representative voting “present.”
Governor Pat Quinn issued a statement immediately following the vote. Quinn said that he made "Pension reform his top priority, proposed a conference committee to break ongoing legislative gridlock, and worked with legislative leaders and members to pass the bill. Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois."
Quinn added, "Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won."
Quinn praised the bipartisan solution saying that "This bill will ensure retirement security for those who have faithfully contributed to the pension systems, end the squeeze on critical education and healthcare services, and support economic growth."
"I applaud House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno for their leadership and good-faith negotiations. I thank Senator Kwame Raoul and members of the conference committee for their hard work over the past six months. I salute the members of the General Assembly who showed great political courage by voting yes for pension reform," said Quinn as he ended his statement.
But this isn't the end, since Illinois lawmakers will have to deal with the city of Chicago and Cook County pension systems. Both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle weighed in and hoped the lawmakers will give them relief.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also issued a statement. "Today, the Illinois General Assembly cleared a major hurdle by passing pension reform for the state's four retirement systems. Now state workers will have the certainty that pensions they paid into and are counting on will be there for them when they retire, and taxpayers can feel confident that they won’t have to shoulder the burden alone."
Emanuel then referred to the city of Chicago which needs relief on pensions. "However, the work is far from finished."
"The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities. Without providing the same relief to local governments, we know that taxpayers, employees, and the future of our state and local economies will remain at risk," said Emanuel.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also issued a statement, and like emanuel, is asking the Illinois lawmakers for help too. "I commend the bipartisan group of lawmakers who voted for legislation to address the pension systems for state workers, teachers outside Chicago and public university employees. I know this was a difficult vote for many, but a problem that has been a generation in the making required a tough decision today."
Referring to county problems, Preckwinkle said, "Now that lawmakers have passed a bill that tackles state funds, it is time to resolve the crisis facing many of Illinois' local pension systems. The Cook County Retirement Fund’s unfunded liability grew by $1 billion last year. The financial health of Cook County pensions will continue to deteriorate without state legislation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach – each retirement system is unique. My administration's goal is to resolve this crisis with a solution that protects taxpayers and the retirement security of County employees."
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.