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Shorter lame-duck session makes pension reform deal less likely

Senate President John Cullert| Seth Perlman~AP

Senate President John Cullerton | Seth Perlman~AP

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Updated: January 28, 2013 3:49PM

The legislative lame-duck session may just have gotten lamer.

Illinois’ General Assembly leaders have cut back the time they’ll work in Springfield starting next week, leaving them fewer days to take up pension reform and a gay marriage bill. A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton confirmed he sent out a memo on Christmas Eve canceling scheduled sessions on Jan. 5, 6 and 7, but retaining Jan. 2, 3 and 4.

“It’s a more efficient approach that will allow us to shape the schedule based on actionable legislation,” Rikeesha Phelon said in an email.

The House of Representatives will be in session Jan. 6, 7 and 8, she said. The Senate could return on Jan. 8 “to respond to substantive House action.”

A measure legalizing gay marriage may have enough votes to pass, she said, adding, “Action will depend on the readiness of the House and Senate sponsors.”

But the leaders haven’t united around any one of the pension reform proposals, Phelon said. “So there is still work to do before votes are scheduled — that is unless the House decided to take up the pension reform already passed by the Senate.”

State Reps. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) floated a bipartisan pension reform plan that would reduce cost of living increases, raise the retirement age and gradually transfer the state’s education-related pension costs to downstate and suburban school districts.

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