Senate passes pension bill, setting up showdown with House

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Illinois Senate pushed through its version of a pension reform proposal Thursday, setting up a potential stalemate with the House just three weeks before lawmakers are scheduled to go home for the summer.
As Senate President John Cullerton hailed the measure as a fair approach with the best chance of surviving a court challenge, House Speaker Michael Madigan dug in his heels in support of a competing plan that representatives passed last week.
Madigan, a powerful Southwest Side Democrat, said he was confident the Senate eventually would see it his way and was noncommittal about whether he would call Cullerton's bill for a vote in the House.
"I think the Senate ought to pass what the House did, and I think they will," Madigan said. "I have faith."
The House version also appears to have the support of Gov. Pat Quinn, who simultaneously praised senators for their efforts while demanding they vote on Madigan's pension plan by the end of the month.
"I think having a robust debate in both houses is a very good way to go for democracy, but ultimately there must be a vote on a comprehensive measure that meets my outlines of what consists of public pension reform," Quinn said. "I think we should have the best bill."
Quinn, who faces re-election next year, has made pension reform his No. 1 priority for more than a year. As a result, he finds himself doing a high wire act of making sure he gets some type of pension overhaul while also ensuring that he doesn't upend any momentum toward resolution. The Democratic governor has outlined several "principles" he would like a bill to include but also has thrown his backing behind several proposals since he began his push.