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Reaction Swift, Mostly Negative to Governor’s Suspension of Pay

Reaction has been pouring in after the governor announced he’s suspending legislative pay in light of lawmakers’ inability to come to a solution on the state’s pension crisis.

State Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg) says the move won’t work to get things done more quickly, and it’s nothing more than a distraction.

“The governor asked for the conference committee, and when they met he didn’t show up and he didn’t answer any questions,” he says. “It’s very frustrating.”

Brauer says Quinn is wasting time and money by not only calling a special session on pensions, but now there’s the possibility lawmakers will come back again to override the veto.

“He wasted taxpayer money with a political stunt,” says Brauer, referring to the special session. “Now he’s going to bring us back in again with another stunt? It’s just a total waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Some political experts don’t think lawmakers will go back into session to override the veto, as it would appear self serving, and they believe Quinn knows that.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he understands Quinn’s frustration.

The powerful Chicago Democrat released a statement Wednesday saying he is “hopeful” Quinn’s strategy works.

The governor cut $13.8 million from a budget bill that covers legislators’ paychecks. This was the “consequence” Quinn warned of if the Legislature didn’t meet Tuesday’s deadline to solve the nearly $100 billion debt in the state’s public-employee pension program.

Madigan says he warned his House Democrats during the spring session that “doing nothing or passing only a half-measure” was not an answer. He and Senate President John Cullerton passed separate pension plans out of their chambers which didn’t get approval from the opposite house.

Cullerton, meanwhile, says Quinn was engaging in “political grandstanding” when he cut legislator pay. Cullerton says Quinn’s move undermines the work of a committee trying to solve the pension crisis.

Cullerton released a statement Wednesday saying “responsible leaders know that unworkable demands will only delay progress.”

The Chicago Democrat says the bipartisan legislative panel will keep working to reach a compromise on Illinois’ $97 billion pension problem.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), one of the point people on the governor’s conference committee, joined the chorus of elected officials saying the governor’s action won’t help anything.

“The governor’s actions today do nothing to move us toward a solution to our pension crisis and only serve as an unnecessary distraction,” said Nekritz in a statement. Each of the conference committee members is committed to a compromise in the near future that addresses this problem in a meaningful way. Our work will continue unimpeded. We would urge the governor to join us as we push to the finish line to really do what is right for Illinois.”