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Illinois House quits, no vote on pensions

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 3:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 5:35 p.m. CDT
Caption
Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, front, prepares to testify during a House committee hearing at the Illinois State Capitol Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Springfield Ill. The long-awaited plan to address Illinois' $96 billion pension problem cleared an early hurdle as the Illinois House committee approved a proposal that freezes cost-of-living increases and calls for higher employee contributions. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House has adjourned its lame-duck session without taking action to solve the state's multibillion pension problem.

House Speaker Michael Madigan made the motion to adjourn the chamber Monday just before 5 p.m.

Members had expected to vote on a last-ditch attempt by Gov. Pat Quinn to save the broken-down pension talks.

Quinn proposed setting up a commission that could recommend changes to bridge a $96 billion deficit in public-employee pension accounts. The commission's recommendations by April 30 would have taken effect unless the Legislature voted against them.

Top lawmakers feared the move would have been illegal.

A new General Assembly will be sworn in Wednesday.

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3:43 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is dumping attempts at compromise on reforming the state's $96 billion pension crisis and is proposing a commission to recommend fixes that would become law unless the Legislature rejects them.

As a House bill crumbled in the last hours of the Legislature's lame-duck session, Quinn and the legislation's sponsor offered a last-ditch pitch to create an extra-legislative commission. The committee approved the measure 7-2.

"It's time to realize under this emergency ... that we have to take an extraordinary action to help break the gridlock," the Democratic governor told the Personnel and Pensions Committee.

The change would create an eight-member commission to come up with recommendations by April 30. It could enact those reforms with a majority of five votes unless overturned by the Legislature.

Quinn likened it to a federal commission formed to close military bases or the former Compensation Review Board that determined lawmakers' salaries.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, began the day doubtful that she had 60 votes needed for the House to adopt her plan to require more employee contributions, freeze annual cost-of-living increases and more in finding a way to catch up on funding for four of the state's five pension systems by 2045.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, voted for the measure to move it to the floor despite serious reservations about its constitutionality and disagreed with the Democratic governor's likening the proposed commission to the former Compensation Review Board, which had a "limited" role in determining lawmaker salaries.

"This is enormous. We're talking about four pensions systems, each of which is extremely complex," Curries said. "I have the same concerns others have voiced about the inappropriate and improper delegation of authority that I take very much to heart."

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The bill is SB1673

Online: http://www.ilga.gov.

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