Local lawmakers preach patience on pension reform
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2013 1:54PM
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:26AM
When Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday he would suspend state lawmakers’ salaries because the pension reform crisis has yet to be resolved, State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, may not have been all that surprised.
“We had heard that it was possible,” McGuire said Monday. “When we were down (in Springfield) in special session last week, it had been mentioned, perhaps by the governor himself.
“What I’ve heard from people is, ‘Do something.’ I think what they’re telling me is you don’t need to pursue perfection on this.”
Quinn’s action denies the General Assembly members their Aug. 1 paychecks. McGuire said Aug. 1 is not a deadline for lawmakers to fix the pension crisis.
McGuire and State Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, on Monday were at Lewis University in Romeoville for a check presentation from AT&T to the school’s computer science department. The $25,000 donation was for a summer outreach program Lewis is holding for high school girls interested in computer science.
Both lawmakers expressed eagerness and optimism about getting the pension reform bill finished. Both took the salary suspension in stride.
“I think every one of us recognizes we have a crisis with the state pension system,” McAsey said. “Legislators have been committed to finding a solution. When you’re dealing with such complex challenges, solutions are difficult. It’s frustrating when the work we’ve done up to this point seems not to be recognized.”
Even with the stalemate and the pay suspension, McGuire said there are reasons why he is optimistic that the pension reform crisis will be solved — it just might not be as immediate as people may want.
“I’ve heard compromise is under way on the (pension) committee,” McGuire said. “It appears the vehicle for compromise is the six-point plan developed by Illinois’ public university presidents.”
McGuire said the “prime mover” behind the plan is Governors State University president Dr. Elaine Maimon.
McGuire said the pension crisis won’t be fixed until the correct numbers are provided.
“I went down to Springfield a day early last week to attend a hearing by the pension conference committee members, and they have asked the state pension systems to run numbers for different reform scenarios,” McGuire said. “It will take at least until this week to get those numbers back from the state pension systems. That’s the reason why we didn’t meet the July 9 deadline on pension reform.
“We’re not going to act without sound numbers derived by actuaries with the state pension systems.”
McGuire said there are no new pension hearings scheduled.