Quinn prepared to call special session on pensions

June 4, 2013

AP/File
File: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he’s ready to call a special session. That’s after lawmakers failed to pass a pension plan last week. But first, the governor says he wants leaders to work out an agreement first.

Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton met Tuesday morning to discuss the state’s pension system. Missing from the meeting, was House Speaker Michael Madigan. Quinn said Madigan was unavailable and unreachable because he doesn’t carry a cell phone.

The governor said he wasn’t frustrated by the speaker’s absence, but focused on solving the pension problem.

Last week, Madigan had made remarks that a lack of leadership in the Senate is one reason why there is no solution to the state’s nearly $100 billion pension liability. Before adjourning, Cullerton looked straight at Madigan when expressing his disappointment at the lack of movement on pensions.

The governor says for things to move, Madigan and Cullerton need to get past personal differences.

“On Friday, John Cullerton and Michael Madigan in the House of Representatives working together for a pension holiday for the city of Chicago. So if they can work for a pension holiday, they can work for pension reform for the people of Illinois,” he said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a legislative bid to secure a 2 year break from making pension payment to the Chicago Public Schools retirement fund.

Quinn said he wouldn’t sign off on that bill if a statewide pension plan wasn’t in place first.

On Monday, Fitch Ratings downgraded the state’s bond rating. Illinois has the lowest general obligation bond rating of any state.

Quinn says that will continue if a pension plan isn’t approved.

Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her at @soosiean