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Mid Day Special Session Update

6/19/2013
There was a flurry of activity behind the scenes and in committee this week leading up to today’s special session of the General Assembly scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Most notably was the agreement between Governor Quinn, Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton to adjourn a conference committee on pensions July 8.

Conference Committee – Compromise or PR Move?
The 10-member committee (three democrats, two republicans from each legislative chamber) will be tasked with finding “compromise” and recommending ways to move forward on the pension issue. Any report issued by the group that receives six or more votes by the members immediately becomes a bill and can be passed (even simultaneously) by both chambers.

Some Statehouse insiders believe the move to form the committee shows movement and compromise by legislative leaders, particularly Speaker Madigan, who has been deadlocked on the issue. Madigan has thus far refused to call Senate-approved SB 2404 for a vote in the House, and even amended the bill earlier this week by deleting its language and replacing it with his own pension-slashing SB 1 proposal, which was soundly rejected (42-16) by the Senate last month. Madigan did scrap his plan to vote on the amendment in House Pension Committee on Tuesday, and instead heard testimony only (no vote was taken) on the original SB 2404.

Others in Springfield believe the conference committee move is simply a way for lawmakers to buy some time and combat negative press in light of the state’s recent credit downgrade after lawmakers adjourned in May without passing pension legislation.

Higher Education Cost Shift Bill May Be Gaining Traction
In other pension developments, on June 18 state university presidents spoke in committee in favor of SB 2591, a pension plan that would impact only members of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) by imposing unconstitutional provisions, including: increasing employee contributions; slashing cost of living adjustments (COLAs); and shifting the normal cost of pensions from the state to already cash-strapped colleges and universities. Community colleges oppose the plan, and some lawmakers have expressed strong concern that it would result in tuition increases for students and parents. The We Are One coalition testified in opposition to the bill on June 18.

Coalition, Lawmakers Urge House Vote on SB 2404
We Are One continues to stand by SB 2404, the only reasonable and constitutional bill on the table that will save the state an estimated $134 billion in pension and healthcare costs over the next 30 years. Illinois AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan testified again in support of the bill in Senate Committee yesterday.

 

“If we’re holding a special session on pension reform, it’s absurd not to vote on the only pass that could pass – and that is Senate Bill 2404, unchanged.”

The Springfield State Journal-Register agrees. An editorial in today’s paper insists that lawmakers should be given the opportunity to debate and vote on the plan.

A bipartisan group of 27 elected officials, including House and Senate members and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, issued a joint statement urging a House vote, as well.

"We cannot afford to wait and kick the can down the road again. In SB 2404, we now have before us the opportunity to enact fair, responsible and constitutional pension reform. On June 19, the House should take fair, democratic action and vote on SB 2404."
Visit the Illinois General Assembly Web site for links to today’s live special session coverage.

To stay informed on special session action, visit IFT Pension Watch, “like” the IFT on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

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