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updated: 1/10/2012 5:03 PM

Quinn urges picks for pension panel

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn is making a strongly worded pledge to reform public-employee pensions this spring.

The Democratic governor said Tuesday in Chicago that he and lawmakers will deal with the ailing system "once and for all."

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Quinn wrote legislative leaders on Monday asking them to make appointments to a panel he's setting up to recommend a legislative fix. Some leaders already have tapped members.

The state's five programs that provide employee retirement benefits are $85 billion short of what they will eventually need because of years of underfunding and a weak economy.

But every legislative seat is on the ballot this fall and the potential for reducing benefits is highly unpopular.

Quinn acknowledged in Chicago it's "a major mountain to climb" but said he's "willing to lead the expedition."

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