"Don't plan on going home for the summer until we get this job done," Gov. Pat Quinn said during his budget address earlier this year. In light of that quote and the inaction of the Aug. 17 special session, I'm calling on Gov. Quinn to immediately call the four leaders back to Springfield -- along with representatives from the unions, the Civic Federation, business leaders, and state actuaries and fiscal experts -- until an agreement on comprehensive pension reform is negotiated.
In the past, we've seen governors call Illinois' legislative leaders to the governor's mansion, and they stayed there until they got the work done. Gov. Quinn needs to use his power as the state's executive officer: Tell the House and Senate leaders to grab their sleeping bags and pillows and make plans to stay until there is an agreement on reform of all five state employee pension systems. Taxpayers ought to stand outside the governor's mansion and not let anyone out until a comprehensive agreement is established. Maybe then we would see who is really serious about reform.
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The Democratic leaders in Illinois aren't being completely forthcoming with taxpayers about the magnitude of the pension hole. Under new, more accurate accounting standards that are likely to soon be adopted, pension liabilities are expected to be pegged at as much as $146 billion.
It's time for the governor to show real leadership and follow through. What's really unconscionable is that unless action is taken on pension reform prior to the November elections, voters will not be given an opportunity to see where their legislators are on the most important issue facing Illinois. We need a full vote of the General Assembly on pension reform before Nov. 6 to smoke out where lawmakers stand.
State Sen. Kirk W. Dillard