* Subscribers were told about this and other stuff earlier today…
A working group of state legislators tasked with charting a path to pension stability will likely miss its Tuesday deadline for releasing a draft report, but members believe they’ll have information to share soon.
The four-member committee is waiting to make its release until after another of Gov. Pat Quinn’s working groups releases its report on how to achieve a $2.7 billion Medicaid cut in fiscal 2013.
“We’ve still got some data we’d like to gather and certainly that the members of the General Assembly would like to see,” said Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, one of four legislators on the pension panel. “I don’t think we’ll release anything Tuesday, and my understanding is that the governor’s not expecting it until late next week.” […]
“I think it’s been very good,” Brady said of the process. “In the past, not everyone has participated (in these kinds of meetings). This is the first time everyone realized the need and participated. Not everyone will like 100 percent of our product, but sometimes that’s how things work out.”
* Part of what to expect…
Gov. Pat Quinn’s pension working group is asking public employee unions to accept lower pension benefits and a higher contribution rate in exchange for a more ironclad guarantee that the state will meet its funding obligations.
The proposal also would shift the employer costs of local teacher and university employee pensions from the state to school districts and universities, according to Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook.
* Rep. Nekritz claimed that the working group has given the proposal to organized labor, but the unions want a lot more info and a pledge…
In a statement, AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan, who spoke for the We Are One Illinois Coalition, said labor has not been given enough information to analyze any potential proposal. The coalition is made up of the AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, the Police Benevolent and Protective Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Service Employees International Union. […]
“Our unions are firmly committed to negotiating a solution to the pension funding crisis,” Carrigan said. “However, to go forward, we need both the data supporting any proposals and a commitment that the representatives with whom we engage are authorized to speak for the governor and the legislative leaders.”
There’s no sense in negotiating a bill if the leaders aren’t supporting the process.
* Meanwhile, figuring out how to pay or cut $2.7 billion in additional Medicaid costs next fiscal year is proving to be as tough to accomplish as pretty much everybody thought it would be…
Last week, Quinn’s administration floated a different proposal that included $1.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid program spending, with the rest of the $2.7 billion coming from a $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax and rate cuts to health care providers, according to Sen. Heather Steans, one of the Democrats on the Medicaid committee.
“When you look at what it takes through just cuts to get to $2.7 billion in one year, it’s impractical,” Steans said. “It’s hard to maintain program integrity.”
Rep. Patti Bellock, a Republican on the committee, is pushing for more cuts and doesn’t want to raise cigarette taxes or cut payments to providers, she said.
“The governor wanted to come forward with a plan this week and had been encouraged by some of the (legislative) leaders to do that,” Bellock said. “I’ve just been trying to push them more. … I think we can find some more reforms.”
Republican Sen. Dale Righter said a cigarette tax is not the right approach when the goal is to reduce the size of the Medicaid program.
* Which pension fixes will be on the table?
* Finke: Madigan amendment likely to get OK
* Hinz: Pension reform is nigh . . . unlikely
* Illinois GOP members speak out against health care reform in Rockford
* Editorial: Don’t just get fed up; demand real reform