WBEZ | john cullerton http://www.wbez.org/tags/john-cullerton Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Republicans Want State Budget before Redo of School Funding Formula http://www.wbez.org/news/republicans-want-state-budget-redo-school-funding-formula-114125 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_537337056734.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs is shown at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)" /></div><p>Republican legislative leaders in Springfield have supported Gov. Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s calls for changes to the state&rsquo;s worker&rsquo;s compensation and limits to collective bargaining before approving a full state budget. But there&rsquo;s one issue they say should wait until later: changes to the state&rsquo;s school funding formula.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a problem for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton. For him, passing a budget is a priority, but he also says the state desperately needs to change the state&rsquo;s school funding formula.</p><p>After a meeting of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state&rsquo;s top legislative leaders this week, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said, &ldquo;All of us did agree that the school aid formula is something that needs to be changed. It needs to be addressed. We&rsquo;re not gonna handle it until after we resolve this budget impasse.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure that&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;ll be on the agenda this year because of the complexity of it,&rdquo; Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.</p><p>Cullerton&rsquo;s office responded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like them to go to any public school auditorium or gymnasium and stand in front of the teachers and the students and tell them that their issues are too complex and too hard for state leaders to lean into,&rdquo; said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon.</p><p>Phelon said Cullerton is recommending education advocates with <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois</a> and Rauner&rsquo;s administration, like Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and state Superintendent Tony Smith, attend future meetings between legislative leaders and the governor. Legislative leaders have said they hope to have another meeting next week.</p><p>So why is the funding formula so important to Cullerton? He says it controls how the state of Illinois funds local school districts and he says it&rsquo;s fundamentally unfair because it doesn&rsquo;t include areas with a high concentration of poverty into the equation. He says that means districts with many people living in poverty aren&rsquo;t getting the state support they should.</p><p>Phelon says, while Cullerton believes changes to the school funding formula ought to be a priority for the state, he&rsquo;s not going to make his support for a state budget deal contingent on an agreement on the funding formula.</p><p><br /><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 11:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/republicans-want-state-budget-redo-school-funding-formula-114125 Cullerton to Chicago Teachers Union: “Of course this would avoid a strike” http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-chicago-teachers-union-%E2%80%9C-course-would-avoid-strike%E2%80%9D-113805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cullerton.JPG" alt="" /><p><div>Chicago Public Schools has laid off round after round of teachers and other employees over the past couple years. Thousands are gone. District officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel warn: If the state doesn&rsquo;t do something by February to help CPS with its $500 million budget hole, there&rsquo;ll be even more layoffs.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>John Cullerton is a Chicago Democrat and state Senate president. &nbsp;He says he has a plan, and that plan--outlined in <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=318&amp;GAID=13&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;LegId=84279&amp;SessionID=88" target="_blank">Senate Bill 318</a>-- has something for everyone, including lawmakers, the governor, school districts &nbsp;and unions. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what a compromise is,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what a package is.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But there&rsquo;s a hitch. Some of the very people Cullerton wants to help - Chicago teachers - their union is not on board.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know the logic of the teachers&rsquo; union being opposed to the bill,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s maybe because, you know, the Board of Ed is for it and, therefore they have to be against it. That&rsquo;s all I can figure, you know? The mayor&rsquo;s for it, they&rsquo;re against it because they had a fight with him in the past.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-strike-after-talks-fail-102287" target="_blank">Remember the 2012 teachers&rsquo; strike?</a> That&rsquo;s the fight Cullerton is referring to. And there&rsquo;s been talk of a second teachers strike under Emanuel over the district&rsquo;s current finances.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Of course this would avoid a strike,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;There wouldn&rsquo;t be any need for them to lose their pension pick-up in their contract negotiations. There wouldn&rsquo;t be any layoffs. I don&rsquo;t know what else they&rsquo;re striking about.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Three-eighteen is not about stopping a strike. Three-eighteen is about destroying our school system,&rdquo; said Stacy Davis Gates, the legislative coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Davis Gates is referring there to something Cullerton himself wants the bill to accomplish. &nbsp;Along with peppering Senate Bill 318 <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/851622/cullerton-introduce-federal-funding-bill-property-tax-hike" target="_blank">with things like</a> a property tax freeze to get Gov. Bruce Rauner in, and teacher pension payments for Emanuel, Cullerton added a remake of the state&rsquo;s school funding formula--one of his own major goals. He says under the way state government currently gives money to schools, poor districts like Chicago don&rsquo;t get the money they should and wealthier districts are getting more than they should.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So Cullerton&rsquo;s bill puts an expiration date on the current way Illinois funds schools. In effect, he says he wants to end a bad system to make way for a better one. But Davis Gates with the Teachers Union says the union has a big problem with that. You can&rsquo;t end school funding first coming up with a way to replace it, she argues.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This bill, again, is irresponsible,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You cannot say that we are providing a solution to a problem when you eliminate the entire revenue stream to the school district.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The teachers union also wants big things that aren&rsquo;t in Cullerton&rsquo;s bill, like a new income tax system and an elected Chicago school board. &nbsp;In the meantime, the clock is ticking on Chicago Public Schools. District leaders say they have only a few months before cuts will be necessary - right in the middle of the school year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Becky Vevea contributed to this story. She is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.&nbsp;</em><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-chicago-teachers-union-%E2%80%9C-course-would-avoid-strike%E2%80%9D-113805 Morning Shift: August 19, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-19/morning-shift-august-19-2015-112685 <p><p>We take a deeper dive into the proposed CPS budget and how it will affect special education. We hear the voices of parents and talk to someone who crunches the numbers for the disability advocacy group Access Living. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton joins us to discuss his proposed bill to help CPS, which rivals Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s proposal. Vocalo&rsquo;s Ayana Contreras comes in with a little Reclaimed Soul. And dropping your kid off for his or her first year at college is an event full of emotions, and full of questions. How will they spend their time? What kinds of challenges will they face? And, how much can you...or should you&hellip;&rdquo;parent&rdquo; your college-age child? We talk with the author of the new book &ldquo;Off To College&rdquo; A Guide for Parents.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 11:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-19/morning-shift-august-19-2015-112685 Senate President pushes rival plan to help CPS http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-19/senate-president-pushes-rival-plan-help-cps-112683 <p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner started the week by introducing a mega bill that included a property tax freeze, changes to CPS&rsquo; pension plan and limits to collective bargaining rights for unions. Senate President John Cullerton is pushing his own rival plan to help Chicago Public Schools. It includes some of the governor&#39;s policies but wouldn&#39;t limit bargaining rights for unions. His bill passed through the Senate Tuesday. President Cullerton joins us to explain what he&#39;s hoping to do with this bill, and how budget talks are progressing. (Photo: EC/File)</p></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 11:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-19/senate-president-pushes-rival-plan-help-cps-112683 Without a budget, courts step in to force state to pay bills http://www.wbez.org/news/without-budget-courts-step-force-state-pay-bills-112477 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4397586040_c9c4b84976_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers remain at an impasse over the state budget.</p><p>But over the last few weeks, the courts have repeatedly stepped in&mdash;telling the state, budget or no budget, it has to pay for certain things, pay some bills.</p><p>The result of that: The state is, bit by bit, forcibly reverting back to some of its budget from last fiscal year -- which happens to be a budget that nobody wants.</p><p>Without a budget, here&rsquo;s Illinois&rsquo; situation: Money can come in. But the rules about how the state can spend it are unclear.</p><p>When last year&rsquo;s state budget expired on July 1, everyone knew certain state business wouldn&rsquo;t stop: There are laws that say prisons can&rsquo;t close and the state police can&rsquo;t call it quits.<br />But there were lots of other things that nobody knew whether the state could continue to fund.</p><p>Can the state still fund foster care without a budget? What about state parks or the DMV?</p><p>Over and over again these last few weeks, the state has been in court to sort these things out.</p><p>Foster care, for example, the courts said the state had to pay. Same for treatment for adults with developmental disabilities.</p><p>This week it was Medicaid, funding healthcare for the poor. And singling out how this Medicaid situation played out is important--because it&rsquo;s a good example of how having no budget is hurting the state; how it&rsquo;s making a bad situation even worse.</p><p>Medicaid is one of the biggest budget lines in Illinois: More than $7 billion. Hospitals, clinics and patients all over the state depend on that money.</p><p>So, it&rsquo;s not surprising that lawyers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/judge-orders-state-pay-cook-county-medicaid-providers-during-budget-impasse-112465">went to court</a>&mdash;wanting a judge to force the to state to keep Medicaid going in Cook County.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to increase access to care not decrease it,&rdquo; said John Bouman, an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, who brought the lawsuit against the state, hoping to force Medicaid payments.&nbsp;</p><p>Bouman and others argued that if the funding didn&rsquo;t come through, hospitals would close. People couldn&rsquo;t get treated.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to keep the whole system going as if there&rsquo;s no budget impasse in order to ensure that the children have access to care,&rdquo; Bouman explained.</p><p>The court agreed: A federal judge ordered the state to continue paying Medicaid in Cook County.</p><p>Because there&rsquo;s no current budget to guide Medicaid spending, the state was has been ordered to keep spending on Medicaid according to last year&rsquo;s budget.</p><p>And the thing about that is last year&rsquo;s budget was widely accepted to be awful.</p><p>&ldquo;Cobbled together. It was in overdraft,&rdquo; said Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Springfield.</p><p>Last year&rsquo;s budget was complicated, in part, because halfway through, when Rauner won the governorship, he let the income tax rate go down. Meaning: lower taxes for residents, and less money for the state.</p><p>Nobody in Springfield thinks last year&rsquo;s budget process should be used as a guide for how the state spends money now. But with each of these court interventions, that&rsquo;s exactly what&rsquo;s happening.</p><p>Simply put: because leaders can&rsquo;t make a new spending plan, the state has to use last year&rsquo;s faulty one--which appears to make things tumultuous on pretty much all fronts.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, the whole thing sucks,&rdquo; Mooney said.</p><p>He remains convinced that Rauner and Democrats will reach a budget...there just might be snow on the ground by the time it&rsquo;s decided.</p><p>Meanwhile, the court interventions, like the Medicaid one, keep piling up: DCFS, foster care and a bunch of other things -- are all being funded according to an outdated budget that everyone thinks is trouble.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers state politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 25 Jul 2015 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/without-budget-courts-step-force-state-pay-bills-112477 Illinois Supreme Court to hear arguments on pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hear-arguments-pension-law-111681 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Illinois_Supreme_Court.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on the constitutionality of a new state law that would reduce retirement benefits for state employees. At stake is Illinois&rsquo; unpaid pension obligations, which have risen to above $100 billion, in addition to the pension benefits that individual state employees&rsquo; say that they&rsquo;ve been promised through their years of work.</p><p>The lawsuits that were filed against the state come from labor unions representing a range of their members, from suburban and downstate teachers and employees of universities, to cashiers for the Secretary of State&rsquo;s office and state prison correctional officers.</p><p>They say they&rsquo;re protected by the state constitution from the cuts that were approved by a bipartisan mix of lawmakers and that was signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Arguments at Wednesday&rsquo;s Supreme Court hearing are likely to be a high level of legal discourse.</p><p>Here is a short breakdown of the issues presented so far.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The stakes</span></p><p>The State of Illinois owes more than $100 billion in pension debt. Money from an increase in the statewide income tax rate had been used to make some pension payments, but that tax rate dropped in January with the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said the state&rsquo;s taxes are too high.</p><p>Many other local governments within Illinois are closely watching how the Supreme Court rules on the statewide pension question. State lawmakers granted the City of Chicago the ability to change retirement benefits for workers and laborers for the city. The city has stalled, changing the benefits to other pension funds.</p><p>Many of Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs are also watching the Supreme Court&rsquo;s ruling as they also look toward restructuring retirement benefits for their police officers, firefighters and other municipal employees.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The argument <em>for</em> the pension law</span></p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office has been defending the pension law in court. Attorneys there have argued that although the state pensions have been underfunded for years, the debt is now so large that it puts the government funding of schools, public healthcare and road construction at risk.</p><p>They argue fundamental functions of state government could not be funded without changes to pension benefits for state employees.</p><p>The Attorney General has also said that the pension costs are continuing to increase. For example, they say in court documents that in 1999, the pension fund for suburban and downstate teachers had nearly $11 billion in unfunded liabilities. By 2013, that debt had increased to $55.7 billion.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The argument <em>against</em> the pension law</span></p><p>Labor unions say the constitution is on their side because it says pension benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or impaired.&rdquo;</p><p>According to court filings, attorneys for the unions say the politicians running Illinois state government chose not to fully fund the pensions for decades, and now &ldquo;the State expects the members of those systems to carry on their backs the burden of curing the state&rsquo;s longstanding misconduct.&rdquo;</p><p>Individual employees affected by these pension changes, from teachers to child protection investigators, listed their expected annual pension upon retirement, and have calculated an estimated amount of retirement income they&rsquo;d lose if the law stands. Among some state employees, that number reaches the hundreds of thousands of dollars.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Previous court ruling on the pension law</span></p><p>The unions won round one in court. Sangamon County Judge John Belz said in a written opinion:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits. Under established and uncontroverted Illinois law, the State of Illinois cannot break this promise.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Attorneys were able to expedite the case to the state Supreme Court.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">Tony Arnold</a> is WBEZ&#39;s state politics reporter. </em></p></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hear-arguments-pension-law-111681 Morning Shift: Investigation seeks source of holes at Indiana Dunes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-15/morning-shift-investigation-seeks-source-holes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Indiana Dunes - Flickr - pepplerchristine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The EPA and scientists are trying to discover the source of holes at the Indiana Dunes. What is causing them and what&#39;s the solution? Also, Lake Bell, star of &quot;In a World...&quot;, talks about the voice-over community, the topic of her new film.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-44.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-44" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Investigation seeks source of holes at Indiana Dunes" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-15/morning-shift-investigation-seeks-source-holes Could Chicago Public Schools’ troubled pensions become the model for the rest of the state? http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-public-schools%E2%80%99-troubled-pensions-become-model-rest-state-108188 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/dave pruneau photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools continues to face severe budget problems. As a result, it&#39;s laying off staff and cutting programs. And part of the reason for those reductions has to do with the district&rsquo;s pension obligations.</p><p>It&rsquo;s raised the question: Why do some Illinois lawmakers look at Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; pension structure as the model for every other school in Illinois?</p><p>In this year alone, Chicago Public Schools says it&rsquo;s $1 billion in debt.</p><p>To give you an idea of what that means for schools, here&rsquo;s how Guadalupe Rivera at Morrill Elementary School on the southwest side of Chicago says her school could be affected.</p><ul><li>They used to have four teaching assistant positions and two special education teaching positions and those had to be cut.</li><li>Programs used to help students who were struggling. They would help differentiate instruction,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;They helped English language learners as well.&rdquo;</li><li>Students have to pay a $50 fee to join sports. And it&rsquo;s $50 each sport.</li></ul><p>And Rivera said the list goes on.</p><p>Cuts like these are being proposed at schools all around the city. The school system said these cuts are happening for a few reasons. Peter Rogers, the chief financial officer, said the main reason is because the district owes an added $400 million just for its retirement system this year.</p><p>&ldquo;The biggest factor in terms of increase year-over-year, is without a doubt, far and away, the pension fund required increase and it will continue to do so over the next several years,&rdquo; Rogers said earlier this week.</p><p>In May, the district tried to temporarily delay paying the whole $400 million in one budget cycle. But to do that, it needed the ok from Illinois lawmakers in Springfield.</p><p>And that didn&rsquo;t go so well.</p><p>At the time, State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), said he&rsquo;d seen the district ask for similar measures in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;You talk about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. This pension holiday will probably work better than all the previous pension holidays,&rdquo; he said sarcastically on the House floor.</p><p>The bill failed, meaning Chicago Public Schools has to pay that extra $400 million into its pensions.</p><p>Yet two of the most powerful lawmakers in Springfield continue to push to make Chicago&rsquo;s pension structure the model for every other school in the state. Chicago contributes to its own pensions. But the state pays for suburban and downstate schools.</p><p>And lawmakers like House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), say it&rsquo;s high time those schools pay for their own teachers&rsquo; pensions.</p><p>Madigan even has a phrase he likes to call it: the &ldquo;free lunch.&rdquo; Madigan has said it&rsquo;s bad management to have the state pay for teachers&rsquo; pensions when the school districts can set the retirement benefits. And Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is on the same page.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to pay, because of some anomaly in the law, for all of the suburban and downstate teachers, all the university employees and all the community college employees,&rdquo; Cullerton recently said in an interview with WBEZ. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the state&rsquo;s obligation. No other state has that. And the reason why we fell behind in making these payments is because the bill is so high.&rdquo;</p><p>But while Cullerton is pitching that all school districts should pay for their pensions, he&rsquo;s also proposing that the state help Chicago&rsquo;s schools with its pension obligations, that extra $400 million that&rsquo;s being partly blamed for causing all the cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;All these cuts that you&rsquo;re hearing about in these schools, that&rsquo;s directly related to the Chicago teachers&rsquo; pension crisis and we really have to focus on that, even, arguably, even before we do the state pension funds,&rdquo; Cullerton said.</p><p>The situation makes the superintendent of west suburban Elmhurst District 205, Dave Pruneau, look at Chicago&rsquo;s pension difficulties as a cautionary tale for every other school in the state if pension costs eventually get shifted to the districts.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re going through a lot of - (it&rsquo;s) kind of a precursor of where we might be in a lot of districts in Illinois in the next few years,&rdquo; Pruneau said.</p><p>Pruneau said his school district has seen about $6 million in cuts in the past three years. Those reductions have mostly been administrative, but if the district has to gradually start finding money for its teachers pensions, those cuts could start moving into the classroom.</p><p>Pruneau pitched the idea of capping how much pension costs suburban and downstate schools should have to pick up.&nbsp; But regardless of what is eventually decided, whether Elmhurst starts paying for its teachers pensions or not, Pruneau said he&rsquo;s already seen a consequence of the ongoing debate.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very tough right now beyond a one or two-year window to plan long-term because you just don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s happening on the revenue side with the state,&rdquo; he said.<br />Pruneau said that means some capital projects on his wish list won&rsquo;t be going anywhere any time soon.<br />Something every other school in the state could be seeing.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-public-schools%E2%80%99-troubled-pensions-become-model-rest-state-108188 Morning Shift: Black-on-black crime http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-18/morning-shift-black-black-crime-108098 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Crime-Flickr- Alessio Centamori PH.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has become the poster child for violence, but none more pervasive than black-on-black crime. With black youths facing so many obstacles, how do we ensure that their futures can be bright, or that they will have a future at all?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-black-on-black-crime.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-black-on-black-crime" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Black-on-black crime" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 18 Jul 2013 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-18/morning-shift-black-black-crime-108098 Illinois leaders hold another pension meeting, still no clear deal http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-leaders-hold-another-pension-meeting-still-no-clear-deal-107714 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/madigan_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois&rsquo; top public officials met behind closed doors Friday to discuss the state&rsquo;s $100 billion pension debt. And still, there is no clear compromise on pension reform.</p><p dir="ltr">The meeting, and pensions stalemate, comes as Gov. Pat Quinn called lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session next week to address pension reform.</p><p dir="ltr">Without a compromise from legislative leaders, lawmakers have been left wondering why the special session is necessary.</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn said Friday he wants state senators to re-vote on a bill they soundly rejected two weeks ago, but was approved in the House.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to make a Herculean effort to get &lsquo;yes&rsquo; votes on that bill,&rdquo; Quinn told reporters.</p><p dir="ltr">But Senate President John Cullerton says getting 20 senators to flip their votes will be tough.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So, uh, I&rsquo;m not very optimistic,&rdquo; Cullerton said.</p><p dir="ltr">Meantime, Republican Senate leader Christine Radogno says she was uncomfortable at Friday&rsquo;s meeting watching Democratic leaders disagree.</p><p dir="ltr">Democrats hold supermajorities in the House and Senate in Springfield and the leaders in those two chambers have yet to see eye-to-eye on the best way to reduce retirement benefits of state employees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I kind of felt like I was witness an awkward family fight,&rdquo; Radogno said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s clear that there&rsquo;s not agreement, even close to agreement between the Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn also requested that lawmakers form a rare, special panel of lawmakers, called a conference committee, to come up with an agreed-upon pension plan. But that, too, was rejected by House Speaker Michael Madigan.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m concerned on the conference committee that it&rsquo;s an effort by the governor to distance himself from the process,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p dir="ltr">But Quinn defended that plan, saying conference committees are designed to break a legislative stalemate when no other solutions are present.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-leaders-hold-another-pension-meeting-still-no-clear-deal-107714