As members of the Illinois House and Senate convene their special session Wednesday, it’s expected that they will form a conference committee â€“ five members from each chamber, with majority Democrats making up three of each five â€“ to try to work out a compromise on the state’s pension crisis. The pension systems are underfunded by an estimated $100 billion.
House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), who â€“ as the spring session rumbled to a close May 31 â€“ worked to oppose a Senate-passed, union-backed plan, endorsed the conference committee idea after a committee hearing in which that Senate plan was aired out.
â€śObviously, there’s a need for some compromise,â€ť Madigan told reporters. â€śThe expectation is that the ten appointees to the (conference) committee will act in good faith and strike a compromise.â€ť
Madigan supported a bill which is seen as more comprehensive but less constitutionally solid. That bill passed the House but failed in the Senate.
â€śThe (Senate) bill is designed to meet a constitutional test, so its savings are real,â€ť Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan told the committee Tuesday. â€śWe are highly confident the court would strike down (the House bill), so the savings in (the House bill) are as real as Squeezy the Python,â€ť a cartoon character the governor’s office created to illustrate the state’s pension difficulties.
A spokeswoman for the governor says the conference committee’s product could be put to a vote in an â€śearly Julyâ€ť special session of the legislature.