Madigan: Pension talks ‘productive,’ but no deal
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org January 5, 2013 8:26PM
Illinois Sen. Christine Radogno
Updated: January 5, 2013 9:36PM
Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois’ legislative leaders met Saturday but couldn’t reach a deal to resolve the state’s pension mess.
“Unfortunately, there are still differences among the participants, and my recommendation is we move beyond the differences and just find a bill that we can pass so there will be some action taken on the question of funding for these pension systems,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said.
He described the meeting among legislative leaders and the governor at the Thompson Center as “productive” and said he remains hopeful that a pension deal can be struck before the lame-duck legislative session’s scheduled conclusion Tuesday.
Asked what he meant by “productive,” Madigan (D-Chicago) joked, “Well, we weren’t throwing punches at each other.”
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) was less enthusiastic.
“It was a marginally productive meeting,” Radogno said. “We still obviously have a long ways to go.”
There was some progress.
Madigan agreed to “defer” his demand that suburban and Downstate school districts pay more toward their teacher pension costs — bills that are now spread statewide — in an effort to reach a deal.
“I did that in the spirit of trying to help the passage of a bill,” he said, adding that he’ll take up that next step during the spring legislative session. “I feel very strongly that it’s a very inequitable situation. It does not lend itself toward good management when people are able to spend money and send the bill to someone else, especially when it’s governments spending money and sending the bill to someone else.”
Those in the meeting didn’t release many details of what was discussed, but Radogno touched on an issue that could complicate the likelihood of an all-encompassing pension deal being reached before the lame-duck session ends.
Radogno said Democratic leaders “can’t even decide whether Chicago is going to be in or out of this program.”
Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel went to Springfield last May to push for a municipal pension fix, Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders have focused on the financial condition of the state’s pension system.
A top aide to the governor Saturday acknowledged that issue was discussed.
“There’s some ... disagreements on the specifics right now, but I think I’ll just leave it at that we’re working to forge that common ground,” said Brooke Anderson, the governor’s spokeswoman.
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) in a statement said he was “encouraged by progress” made at Saturday’s meeting.
House Republican Tom Cross (R-Oswego) left the meeting without speaking with reporters.
Contributing: Mark Brown, Dave McKinney