Ill. officials disagree on pension reform approach

June 7, 2012 • Business

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks with reporters, Wednesday, June 6, 2012, in Chicago after top Illinois lawmakers met with Gov. Pat Quinn to talk about pension reform. The lawmakers left the meeting divided over what approach to take. They were close to agreement last week, but that was derailed shortly before the end of the legislative session. The biggest dispute is over whether to make downstate and suburban Chicago schools take over the cost of employee pensions. Illinois pays those expenses now. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday divided over the next steps in solving the state’s most pressing financial issue: somehow closing an $83 billion funding gap for its retirement systems.

The top Democrat and Republican in the Senate and the House Republican leader argued for quickly adopting a proposal that has the widest support before continuing to negotiate. But Gov. Pat Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan are insisting on a more comprehensive solution that would include a transfer of pension costs to school districts, a proposal that scuttled negotiations last week.

Legislative leaders, taking up the issue after talks collapsed in the final days of the spring legislative session, are under pressure to act soon as bond-rating agencies have made it clear they will downgrade the state’s already-low credit rating unless Illinois finds a Login to read more

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