* Mark Brown thinks that Speaker Madigan will either get a pension bill done, or do whatever he can and let the blame fall elsewhere…
There were no smiles on the faces of anyone emerging from Saturday’s closed-door summit of Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders on how to solve the state’s pension funding woes.
That was the bad news for those hoping for an agreement.
The good news was that House Speaker Michael Madigan told reporters afterward that he wants a pension bill passed by the time the Legislature finishes its lame-duck session Tuesday night.
Past performance tells us that when Madigan is of a mind to pass a piece of legislation, he will pass that piece of legislation. […]
When the speaker speaks, you can take him at his word. But you also have to look for the nuance.
My interpretation: He was a little frustrated by whatever transpired over the previous two hours but will apply himself to forging a deal. If things go south this time, we’ll have a hard time blaming him.
* Subscribers know a lot more about what happened behind closed doors yesterday. The media coverage mainly focused on what people said as they emerged from the leaders’ confab…
Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois’ legislative leaders met Saturday but couldn’t reach a deal to resolve the state’s pension mess.
“Unfortunately, there are still differences among the participants, and my recommendation is we move beyond the differences and just find a bill that we can pass so there will be some action taken on the question of funding for these pension systems,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said.
He described the meeting among legislative leaders and the governor at the Thompson Center as “productive” and said he remains hopeful that a pension deal can be struck before the lame-duck legislative session’s scheduled conclusion Tuesday.
Asked what he meant by “productive,” Madigan (D-Chicago) joked, “Well, we weren’t throwing punches at each other.”
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) was less enthusiastic.
“It was a marginally productive meeting,” Radogno said. “We still obviously have a long ways to go.”
* Most every other pension story was covered yesterday, but the Trib’s piece had some important stuff again. For instance…
Cullerton’s position is that a change in public pensions must be accompanied by a choice for employees, such as opting between keeping the cost-of-living increase and giving up health care, or taking a smaller annual increase but keeping health benefits. Cullerton staunchly believes that his approach is the only way to work around the state Constitution’s guarantee that a person’s pension cannot be diminished once it is set. But not everyone agrees with his approach.
Following the meeting, Cullerton, in a statement from an aide, said he was “encouraged,” but still urged the House “to follow the Senate’s lead.” Radogno, however, called the meeting only “marginally productive” and noted Democratic leaders were at odds over whether any pension legislation should include changes being sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to deal with Chicago’s municipal pensions.
“We will vote on what Democrat leaders decide to put up on the board,” said Radogno, who did not take questions. “And some of the issues, they can’t even decide if Chicago is going to be in or out of this program. So they have thinking to do before we have an opportunity to vote.”
* The Tribune editorial board sounded almost reasonable on pensions, for a change, when it endorsed the new Nekritz/Cross reform proposal…
In sum, this plan provides a substantial and relatively swift restructuring of the pension systems. It is a strong proposal.
It will run into predictable resistance from organized labor. It might run into resistance from Sen. Cullerton, who has pressed the House to vote on a much more limited pension reform package approved last year by the Senate.
We respect that Senate effort, but we strongly encourage Cullerton to reach agreement with the other leaders and the governor on legislation along the lines of what has been negotiated by the House members.
One more encouraging sign: Republicans, who have been highly suspicious of Democratic efforts to shift future pension costs to local government, are warming to this compromise. They have helped to craft the product. It is likely that the shift of future pensions costs to local government will be separated and negotiated later, in the spring.
Will wonders never cease?
* Pensions affect Illinois college scholarships: Augustana Vice President of Enrollment Kent Barnds said the uncertainty surrounding the MAP program had led the college to try and recruit more students from outside Illinois.
* Saturday meeting fails to produce pension plan
* Talks on Illinois pension crisis end without deal
* Illinois House returns for final pension deal push
* Illinois Pension Reform: Teacher Cost Shift Tabled, Governor Quinn Confident Of Passage
* Retired teachers balk at proposal to shift pension costs
* Teachers oppose pension plan
* Editorial: It’s time for new try, fresh approach
* Erickson: Clock ticking on pension deal
* Finke: They’ll take futility for $500, Alex
* VIDEO: NIJWJ Forum: Fred Klonsky, “The Politics of Pension Reform”