Lawmakers End Third Pension Meeting

A bipartisan panel finished a third meeting about the state’s $97 billion pension crisis as another deadline set by Gov. Pat Quinn is set to lapse without a solution.

The group has now asked for reports of the cost-savings of a university-backed retirement funding proposal after meeting Monday in Springfield. Quinn gave the committee a Tuesday deadline to achieve pension reform.

Lawmakers moved to form the committee after a compromise couldn’t be reached last month.

Quinn didn’t attend Monday’s hearing. The governor says committee members know where he stands and that his budget office will speak on his behalf.

Committee chair Kwame Raoul says it takes time to craft legislation and called for the governor to cast politics aside.

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.

Meanwhile, lawmakers spent a good portion of the meeting asking where the governor was.

The answer: In his office, on the second floor of the state Capitol in Springfield.

The committee issued an invitation for Quinn to either attend or send a designee. That designee was budget director Jerry Stermer, and the lawmakers and Quinn’s office disagree over the message that sends.

Raoul told Stermer, “If I’m governor and the committee is not working at a good enough pace,” as Gov. Quinn has suggested, “I’m working with that committee every day, and if I get an invitation to be at the table with the committee, I’m not sending a designee. I’ll be here myself!”

“It just seems inconsistent with the rhetoric that you’re going to get things done, and then you don’t come to meetings that you’re invited to,” State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) said before changing the subject. “But I think the more important thing that is going on with regard to pensions right now is: I think there is more momentum towards a solution than there’s been in the last three years.”

The conference committee has not scheduled its next meeting.