Illinois fails on pension reform efforts

Illinois Governor Patt Quinn
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

The Illinois House adjourned Tuesday, the end of the lame-duck session, without passing any pension reform for the state with, in aggregate, the worst-funded pension plans in the country.

An eleventh-hour proposal from the House Personnel and Pensions Committee that would have created an eight-member commission with broad powers to enact pension reform, never came up for a vote before the entire House. The commission would have had the power to enact legislation unless rejected by the majorities of both legislative chambers.

Gov. Pat Quinn had sought to have comprehensive reform in place before the end of the lame-duck session. The new General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday.

Brooke Anderson, spokeswoman for Mr. Quinn, said the governor will continue to work with the General Assembly to enact reform “until we get the job done.”

“The people of Illinois are paying the price for every day of inaction on pension reform,” Ms. Anderson said in an e-mail. “$17.1 million is added to the unfunded liability every day that goes by without action. The governor can't act alone, and the General Assembly must step up to address reality.”

Earlier this week, the House Personnel and Pensions Committee approved a bill that create a plan to reach 100% funding in 30 years for the state pension funds, which have a combined $96 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Senate President John Cullerton had said he was uncertain whether the bill would have held up in court, according to his spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon.