What's up this week: Pension pinch, special session called in Springfield, little expected out of it

What's up this week: Pension pinch, special session called in Springfield, little expected out of it
Shutterstock/Springfield

State lawmakers will convene in Springfield on Aug. 17 for a one-day special session called by Gov. Pat Quinn to persuade them to pass "comprehensive" pension reform legislation. Little is expected to come of the one-day session, though.

Democrats likely don't want to pass legislation that will upset unions and labor organizations--big campaign donors--during an election year. And Republicans are not on board with provisions in a bill recently introduced by 57th District state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, which Quinn supports.

A controversial provision in that bill would require the gradual shift of teacher pension contributions from the state to local school districts.

Republicans oppose that plan because they believe the cost shift will require future tax increases. Several GOP lawmakers said the special session amounted to Quinn pulling a publicity stunt.

Some Democrats also back legislation that would offer certain state workers pension cost-of-living adjustments of 3 percent, which compound annually, but if they select this option, they would have to give up state retiree health insurance. What's more, salary increases wouldn't count towards pensions.

Senate President John Cullerton also spoke out against the special session, citing the high cost of bringing lawmakers back to the capital for one day. He pegged the session's cost at roughly $40,000.

Rep. Smith's fate in House's hands

On Aug. 17, the House also is to decide whether to give indicted 10th District state Rep. Derrick Smith the boot.

Smith was arrested in March after allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe, but still won the Democratic primary. He has since been indicted on federal bribery charges and has pleaded not guilty.

A two-thirds majority is needed in order to expel Smith.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

 

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