Senate votes down pension measure

May 31, 2013

It's the final day of the legislative session, and the foremost issue that has plagued lawmakers all year remains unresolved. There's a chance yesterday's actions may have deepened a divide between the House and Senate over what to do about the state's massive pension debt. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky explains. 
Gov. Pat Quinn is asking the state senate to reconsider its vote, after the chamber quashed a pension measure that would cut state employees' and teachers' retirement benefits. Quinn says the Senate's action lets down the people of Illinois, whom he says are paying $17 million every day the current pension system stays in place. 

House Speaker Mike Madigan's comments were even more direct.  He told the Sun-Times the Senate's failure to pass his pension legislation showed a "failure of leadership." A remark seemingly directed at Senate Pres. John Cullerton:

"Well, I'm sure he's disappointed. He passed the bill and we weren't able to.  So I’m sure he’s frustrated, we're all frustrated because it's a very tough issue."

Cullerton favors a different pension reduction plan, one that has the backing of labor unions. He continues to call on the House to take up his version and says he'll keep working toward an agreement.

There's a chance the Senate could pass narrow pension changes already approved by the House, that a brand new plan will surface, or that legislators will adjourn without a pension solution at all.