Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday called for a special session of the General Assembly on Aug. 17 to tackle pension reform.
The Illinois House was already scheduled to be back in Springfield to decide the fate of indicted Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), the Chicago Tribune reports. The governor's call means the Senate must also convene.
Quinn made the announcement during a speech to the City Club of Chicago, calling on lawmakers to deal with "comprehensive" reforms that address the state's $83 billion unfunded pension liability.
The state legislature during its regular spring session in May, despite last-minute efforts to strike a deal.
Quinn said lawmakers "can't afford to wait another moment" to address the state's massive pension liability, which is growing by millions each day and taking revenue from education, health care and other public serves, according to a Reuters report.
"It's time to vote," Quinn said. "See you in Springfield."
In a joint statement, Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) said they are "encouraged" by Quinn's call for a special session.
"As many people know, we have been and continue to be supportive of comprehensive pension reform that solves the major crisis facing us today," the statement read. "The time to act has been upon us. We are continuing to encourage Gov. Quinn to take a leadership role to get a comprehensive pension bill passed in the General Assembly."
Quinn renews push for pension shift
According to a CBS 2 Chicago report, Quinn is renewing the push for a controversial plan that would shift the cost of teacher pensions to local school districts over 12 years.
The shift, which was sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) during the spring legislative session, would hold suburban and downstate school districts—and ultimately taxpayers—responsible for the pension contribution typically made by the state.
Of the state's $83 billion pension liability, $44 billion is from the Teachers' Retirement System.
"There is a concept in America that we all try to live under, which is called responsibility," Madigan said of the proposed shift.
In May, Quinn convinced Madigan to drop the proposal, and allow Cross to pass a plan without the pension shift. However, Cross was unable to secure enough support for his plan, and pension reformed stalled.
Officials in and have publicly expressed their opposition to the pension shift and .
The shift could cost the two districts each more than $730,000 annually, officials said.
"As I have said all along, it is unfair for the legislature—which created the equation for its portion of TRS, established the increases in COLA (cost-of-living adjustment), and for many years did not to meet its own financial obligations under the system it established—to give the responsibility for those payments to school districts with no funding source, especially when they were reducing state revenue to schools at the same time," said former District 210 Superintendent Sandra Doebert, who retired in June.
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