Lawmakers prepare to head back to Springfield with no movement on pension reform

By WEEK Producer

Lawmakers prepare to head back to Springfield with no movement on pension reform

October 15, 2013 Updated Oct 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- State lawmakers head back to Springfield in about a week for the veto session, but there is still no bill to fix the state's pension crisis.

Sources said a conference committee is divided along party lines.

Democrats are reportedly more sensitive to the cost increases and benefit cuts to teachers and other unionized public workers but minority Republicans want more employee contributions and sacrifice in the reform bill.

State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth said Illinois' pension should have been reformed three decades ago, and that she is prepared to vote next week.

"We are at a precipice right now, where we have to fix this problem," said Rep. Gordon-Booth, (R) 92nd District "If we don't fix this problem all of the other issues that we have in this state as it relates to our unemployment, as it relates to investment in education, as it relates to investment in training and redeveloping workers that are part of that structurally unemployed that don't have the skills for the jobs that are here, we won't be able to take care of those things as long as we have this pension obligation that we have."

The pension debt and the possibility of higher taxes to pay for it, is blamed in part for Illinois having the second highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The fall veto session begins October 22.

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