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DougWhitleyPhotoBWDouglas WhitleyPublic Pension Debate Continues
   Other than the fire alarm going off at the state capitol building that forced everyone out of the building in the afternoon summer heat, not much excitement occurred during the June 19th special legislative session.
   As expected, there was no deal reached on solving Illinois’ public pension crisis; a conference committee of 10 legislators was established to work out a compromise on SB 1. The conference committee consists of six Democrats; Senators Daniel Biss, Kwame Raoul, Linda Holmes, Representatives Elaine Nekrtiz, Art Turner and Michael Zalewski, and four Republicans; Senators Matt Murphy, Bill Brady, Representatives Darlene Senger and Jil Tracy. The legislature will have two attempts at coming up with a compromise between the two public pension reform proposals.
   A majority of the committee, six members, must come to an agreement on the details of a proposal to generate a committee report that will then be submitted and passed by a majority vote of both the House and Senate in order to be sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature into law. If either chamber fails to pass the committee report by a majority vote on the first attempt, or the conference committee fails to reach an agreement, a second conference committee can be created. After a second failure to reach a deal, the bill is declared dead.
   It is rumored the legislature will return to Springfield on July 8th for another special session to vote on the conference committee’s proposal. Failure to reach a deal is a luxury the Illinois legislature cannot afford. The pension debt grows at $17 million per day and the state is expected to issue another $1.3 billion in bonds soon, which will cost Illinois taxpayers more to finance as a result of our recent credit downgrades by Moody’s and Fitch.
   In short, the financial integrity of the state now rests on the shoulders of 10 legislators. We will keep you updated on the conference committee’s progress and aware of future hearings throughout the summer.