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Cullerton Says He’ll Call Madigan’s Pension Bill

Illinois’ political leaders have a deal in place on public pension restructuring, but it’s nothing to get excited about.

Gov. Pat Quinn emerged from a meeting with legislative leaders in Chicago Friday to announce that a vote has been arranged in the Illinois Senate to ease the state’s pension crisis.

“There is a bill that can get the job done. That’ll be voted on on Wednesday. I’m gonna do my utmost. I’ve been calling senators, I’ve been meeting with senators on getting them to vote yes on that particular bill,” he said.

The bill is S.B. 1, the one that passed the House. The trouble is, it failed badly in the Senate in May, and probably will again, says Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

“I’m not optimistic that we’re gonna change 20 votes and pass S.B. 1, which got 16 votes, and now it needs 36. I’m not optimistic that we can do that,” he said. But he says the governor and the House speaker have his blessing to try.

The opposition in the Senate, Cullerton says, is because the Senate passed a bill that members believe would easily pass the House if the speaker would call it for a vote.

The substantive disagreement is that senators believe this House measure may be unconstitutional. Members of the House believe the Senate plan is not aggressive enough to solve the state’s pension crisis.

Today’s agreement supersedes an earlier plan to meld the House and Senate plans into one bill, pass it through both chambers and enact it into law, and see if any of it withstands a legal challenge.