Leading state lawmakers take up pension overhaul

Nov 11, 2013

Overhauling Illinois' pension systems is no longer in the hands of the special committee of legislators that met all summer.  How to reduce the state’s $100 billion of long-term pension debt is now in the hands of the General Assembly's four leaders. 

 All summer long, state employees and retirees concerned about their retirement benefits had their eyes on a bipartisan conference committee, but insiders say even the key panel members are no longer part of discussions.

The General Assembly's four leaders -- who are really always in charge -- are taking the reins.

 "Well this time it is different because the four leaders are actively engaged in actually nailing down the pieces."

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the conference committee's ten members made a lot of progress on pensions, but she says it's easier to get consensus with fewer people in the room. 

 "I kind of think of it as a triangle. You can't get 176 people around a table and make progress, so we went down to a group of ten, so you had a couple of people from each caucus putting forth their ideas. But now we're down to just four. With the guidance of all of the conversations we've had with members, hopefully we can get something that we can all agree to."

Radogno, and other leaders, have hinted that the General Assembly may come back in early December to deal with pensions.