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Illinois Governor Seeks Fast Vote on State's Long-Troubled Pension Systems

The New York Times | by Monica Davey | January 2, 2013

CHICAGO - As Illinois lawmakers head back to work this week, Gov. Pat Quinn is seeking to use the practical advantages of a lame-duck legislative calendar to fix the state's pension systems - the most underfinanced in the nation - in a matter of days.

Over the years, leaders here have fretted over the shortfall even as they watched it grow and grow, now reaching, by some estimates, $96 billion. Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, has come to describe the situation as the state's "rendezvous with reality" and Illinois's own "fiscal cliff." He has tried - to somewhat mixed results and at least a degree of mocking - to stir up public concern by releasing videos, including one featuring an orange cartoon snake named Squeezy the Pension Python.

"We're trying to do fundamental pension reform that has confounded 12 governors, 13 speakers of the House and 13 Senate presidents over the last 70 years," Mr. Quinn said in a recent interview, adding that despite that troubled history, he believed that a meaningful overhaul of the state's pension systems could be passed through the current legislature in a single week - after lawmakers begin returning to Springfield on Wednesday and wrapping up before newly elected lawmakers are sworn in at noon on Jan. 9.

"We have come to the moment," Mr. Quinn said.

 

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