Chamber president urges pension reform

By WEEK Producer

September 20, 2012 Updated Sep 20, 2012 at 7:33 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The president of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce says Illinois is running out of time to reform state pensions and that the wrong kind of reform, such as shifting the cost to local governments, would cause property taxes to go explode.

Roberta Parks says she favors reform in which state workers contribute more to their pensions.

She also thinks future benefits, including health care benefits, must be adjusted if reform is going to be feasible in the long-term.

However, she fears the state legislature might try to attack the problem over the course of several years and doesn't think that will work.

"We want them to act quickly, we want them to act decisively and try to address the problem," said Parks. "Even if the solution takes several years, they've got to do this, as my mother once said, in one fell swoop. Do this one time and get it done."

Currently Illinois is responsible for roughly $85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.