Several members of the Illinois General Assembly’s special pension reform committee told me last week that they believed a final proposal would emerge within the next week to 10 days.
The conference committee has been working since June on a solution to the state’s nearly $100 billion long-term pension funding shortfall, after Gov. Pat Quinn urged members to find a way around the spring legislative session’s gridlock on the issue.
For the past several weeks, the committee, made up of three Democrats and two Republicans from each chamber, has been working on “tweaks” to ideas that they’ve discussed behind closed doors.
As I write this, there was no word on what the final proposal would look like, but there was real concern among Democrats I spoke with that the Republicans might decide not to go along. While the Republicans on the committee have strongly indicated they’re committed to finding a solution, three of the four GOP members are running for higher office — Sen. Bill Brady governor, Rep. Jil Tracy lieutenant governor and Rep. Darlene Senger U.S. House.
The Democrats fear that any strong objections from traditional Republican allies, particularly in big business, could spook those GOP members into opposition. And, as is usually the case with this sort of stuff, the chaos created by no solution could be more politically beneficial to the Republicans in next year’s election than getting this monster off the table now.
Despite their super-majority status in both chambers, it’ll be impossible for the Democrats to pass a reform bill without significant Republican assistance. Democratic members are just too closely allied with union interests. More…