Illinois pension reform deal close, says Michael Madigan | Voices

27 Nov

The four legislative leaders have struck a tentative deal on solving Illinois’ $100 billion pension crisis, the top Republicans in the House and Senate confirmed Wednesday.

“We have a deal,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, told reporters at the Bilandic Building, where leaders met Wednesday morning.

“The four of us have reached an agreement, and we’re going to speak to the membership and try to secure votes,” he said after the meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Rodogno, R-Lemont.

No details of the deal — first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times — were offered by either Durkin or Radogno, but he said a vote is expected next week.

“That’s our hope,” he said.

Using gridiron vernacular, Madigan voiced a similar sentiment.

“We’re inside the one and we’re trying to get across the goal line,” Madigan said.

“It’s going to be a very difficult roll call,” Madigan said. “The unions are going to be against the bill.”

The House and, now, the Senate are both scheduled to return to Springfield to take up the pension legislation on Tuesday. A Cullerton aide confirmed word was going out to senators Wednesday about the Tuesday session day.

Without offering specifics, Durkin identified three broad elements to the package, including a change to the COLA, a defined contribution plan and an adjustment to the retirement age.

“All of us want to avoid another downgrade,” Durkin said.

Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said there would be no specific details of the deal offered from her office until the 40 members of the Senate Democratic caucus get briefed on the plan, and she was not sure when that would happen.

“I don’t expect we’ll have details until Friday or later,” she said.

Asked why the deal came together now, Radogno said, “It’s just the urgency and the sense we really need to get this done….Every leader had concerns, and we’ve all accommodated each other.”

“Having the leaders, all four agree, is a huge step in the right direction.” Radogno said.

Radogno would not immediately address how much the bill would save, though the leaders were believed to have been focusing on a target of between $150 billion and $160 billion over 30 years at a late stage in negotiations. “It’s a substantial savings,” she said.

via Illinois pension reform deal close, says Michael Madigan | Voices.

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