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Illinois Strikes Out Looking on Pension Reform


Illinois has now officially blown its third chance in one year at fixing the worst state pension system in the country. After failing to pass pension reform bills in August and again in January, Illinois is now 0-for-3, having failed as expected on Friday to pass a bill before the legislature adjourned. The state may now have to wait until the legislature reconvenes in October for another chance to resolve the issue.

The optimist would point out that all hope is not lost for Illinois. As the WSJ reports, Governor Pat Quinn has made it clear that he intends to call legislative leaders back to the Senate to draft a new bill, and there is the possibility that Quinn could call a special session to pass a bill, should one appear. Unfortunately, there is a lot working against this option. In order to pass in a special session, a bill would need a two-thirds majority rather than the usual simple majority. Given the current track record for passing these bills in regular sessions, it’s difficult to see how a meaningful reform could pass under these more stringent requirements.

The longer the state waits, the worse its situation becomes. Illinois’s bonds are already only a few steps above junk status, having been downgraded after previous reform bills failed. Standard & Poor’s hinted that they would issue another downgrade if the last bill failed. They haven’t done so yet, but if they do, the state will see its borrowing costs, already among the highest in the nation, rise yet again.

The digging continues.

[State Capitol of Illinois image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • bigfire

    Forget it Walter, it’s Springfield.

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