Pension Committee Meets This Week
By Brian Mackey
The Illinois lawmakers working on solving the state pension problem are not planning any more public meetings, but they are meeting behind closed doors this Friday.
The pension conference committee has taken hours of testimony in public. Now it is focusing on closed-door negotiations, trying to reach a compromise on the state's $100 billion pension liability.
Chairman Kwame Raoul, a Democratic state senator from Chicago, said one voice has been absent:
"The governor's office has not communicated at all," Raoul said. "Which is fine -- I think he views his role as setting deadlines."
Gov. Pat Quinn's office has repeatedly refused to lay out specifically what the governor wants in a pension fix, instead simply saying it had to be a "comprehensive" plan that would erase the liability.
Raoul said he is focused on pensions -- while "others" have been more interested in politics than policy.
"Suffice to say that the state is in need of leadership at the very top level, and that involves more than just setting multiple deadlines," he said. "That involves being engaged."
Raoul said regardless of how engaged with negotiations the governor is -- or rather isn't -- he and his colleagues will continue trying to reach a compromise on pensions.