Quinn pushes to solve pension crisis
By Stefano ESposito Staff Reporter email@example.com December 7, 2012 4:56PM
Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to the media after speaking to the City Club of Chicago, Monday, July 30, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: January 9, 2013 6:08AM
Gov. Pat Quinn urged business leaders Friday to “speak a language that every legislator understands” and get lawmakers in Springfield to finally solve Illinois’ $95 billion pension crisis.
“We have to tell our fellow citizens who are members of the Legislature in Illinois: Together, we need to work together to accomplish something that’s historic, that’s landmark,” Quinn said, speaking at The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s 119th annual meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
Since he laid out his own plan for reform in April, the pension burden has grown by $13 billion, and is increasing at $17 million a day, Quinn said.
“If we delay, postpone, ... wait until the next election, it’s going to get worse,” Quinn said.
Quinn said the pension burden is putting the “squeeze” on the state’s operating budget — threatening spending on education, public safety, health care, among other things.
The problem means the state faces the “very serious risk” of a credit downgrade, Quinn said.
Credit agencies are “very alarmed by what Illinois has been doing for, frankly, 70 years,” the governor said.
Quinn said he wants legislators to pass a pension reform bill by Jan. 9, the date the 97th General Assembly expires.
“There will be employee groups in Springfield telling legislators to do nothing at all,” Quinn said. “And the most powerful force, perhaps, in life is inertia — just standing still doing nothing. We can’t allow that to happen.”
Quinn described the fight ahead as “Titanic.”
“Business and I think in particular, manufacturers, can speak a language that every legislator understands,” he said.