Forming a bipartisan, bicameral "conference committee" was Gov. Pat Quinn's idea -- an attempt to get the Illinois House and Senate on the same page. The chambers favor different plans to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.
Most of the legislators chosen to sit on the panel served on other committees, panels and working groups that have likewise tried - and failed - to reach an agreement.
Nonetheless, most of the first meeting was spent hearing from the same cast of characters who've testified about pensions for years.
"Passing real, not watered-down pension reform can do a world of good. Given the depth of Illinois' pension crisis, half measures are simply unacceptable."
"We think it needs to be an effective solution, that actually solves the problems we're facing as a state."And that was the Illinois Federation of Teacher's Dan Montgomery, on behalf of unions.Their messages sound aligned ... but disguise a deep divide on how to fix the problem. The panel didn't discuss any NEW proposals, though legislators say they're hopeful they'll come up with something. They meet again Wednesday.
Quinn says he wants legislation on his desk by July 9.