It's a field day in Chicago for state lawmakers meeting with Governor Pat Quinn. But no time for fun and games.
With a pension deficit nearing 100-billion dollars, it's go time. An answer could come as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.
Pension reform has been on the minds of legislators it seems like forever. They've encountered a few road blocks along the way, but the issue is coming down to the wire. Lawmakers need to make a final decision before the current lame duck session ends.
69th District Representative Joe Sosnowski says, "Well the major stumbling block was really pushing the cost down to the school districts, and forcing the school districts to pay a normal cost shift. A lot of downstate suburban school districts had been concerned with that. The Governor and Speaker Madigan have released anyway general information that says they're backing off of that. They may want to look at that later on down the road."
Pension problems are not exclusive to teachers. A bill would mean changes for all state employees, like fire and police.
"Well they're one of the largest unions, obviously they're concerned," says Representative Sosnowski. "I think a lot of their ideas have come to the table and they suggested some changes themselves. And what we're looking for legislatively is to make sure that we have a retirement systems that's going to be available for decades to come."
Representative Sosnowski says he will leave for Springfield tomorrow evening, and expects three very late nights working to come to a consensus with other representatives before Wednesday.
"I think where we're heading right now is we have a blend of several different plans, it takes some of the things out that were controversial from three different pieces of legislation and what I outlined looks like it's going to be a bi-partisan effort. Everybody seems very supportive of it," says Representative Sosnowski.
He adds, all proposals are still tentative, and many changes can still be made before the bill is due on the Governors desk.
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