Quinn says he'll start grassroots campaign on pension reform

August 20, 2012

Download Story
(AP/Seth Perlman)
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters while heading into a meeting with legislative leaders to discuss a state pension overhaul at the Illinois State Capitol Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 in Springfield Ill.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to start a campaign to boost support for changes to state pension systems. Quinn has been in campaign mode for months, repeatedly bringing up to the media and legislators the importance of tackling the state’s massively underfunded pension system.

But legislators didn’t pass any pension changes back in the Spring session. When Quinn called them to Springfield  last week for a special, one-day session to pass something, they didn’t.

Without a vote, many worry about downgrades to the state’s bond ratings. Now, Quinn says he’s taking his pensions campaign in a new direction.

"We’ve gotta, I think, activate the taxpayers," Quinn told reporters Friday.

WBEZ state reporter Tony Arnold stopped by Eight Forty-Eight on Monday morning to explain the latest developments in Illinois' pension crisis. 

Quinn said he’s starting a grassroots campaign, which will put pressure on lawmakers in a way that hasn’t been used yet.

"If they can’t do it on their own, we’re gonna help them do it with the people of Illinois," Quinn said. 

He said his pensions campaign will last as long as it takes for the legislature to act.

Meantime, Republican House Leader Tom Cross said Democratic leaders don’t have the will to pass any sort of changes to pensions.

"You’ve got an issue where you’ve got two Democrat leaders who don’t want to really do it and a governor that doesn’t know how to do it," Cross said. "And so when you’ve got those two things going on, it’s pretty difficult to get to the goal line."

Cross said he worries the state’s bond ratings will be affected if nothing is passed.