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State Legislators Weigh In on Lack of Pension Agreement

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

State Senator John O. Jones spent his final day in the state legislature waiting for a vote that never happened.  Jones wasn't surprised no agreement was reached on solving the state's pension debt.   He blamed lack of leadership from the Quinn administration.  Jones feels the lack of resolution will result in additional problems from the state.

"This just sends a bad signal to the bonding companies.  They will probably declare us junk bond status in the next day or two.  It will be extremely difficult to borrow any kind of money.  It just sends a bad message throughout the whole company on how the state of Illinois operates, and for the governor to pull his support on the bill just absolutely flabergasts me", said Jones.  

In the State House, Representative John Cavaletto feels confident a solution will be found to the pension problem by the time the spring session of the new legislature is over.   While it never came to a vote, Cavaletto said he opposed Governor Quinn's last minute proposal to form an outside commission to come up with a solution to the pension crisis.

"I felt as the general assembly on our side of the isle that it was our job to solve his problem and not someone from the outside.  People elected us to come to Springfield to solve these problems that was created by legislators and who voted and now they are going to have to be resolved by legislators who are going to be elected in the 98th General Assembly", said Cavaletto.  

Several pension proposals hit road block in the past year. The challenge is trying to draft a proposal that doesn't violate the state's Constitution, which says pension benefits can't be diminished or impaired. Senate President John Cullerton plans to introduce another bill during the first day of the new legislature Wednesday. It'll outline changes to four of the five pension systems, giving workers an option to choose their benefits. Cullerton says by giving workers a choice, the proposal will be in line with the law.  The sponsor of the pension reform bill in the house, Democrat Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook says she will start over with a bill similar to the one that failed to be brought to a vote of the full house before adjournment Tuesday.  

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