Quinn says lawmakers shouldn't be 'irresponsible' on pensions

Monday, May 24, 2010

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today said it would be “irresponsible” for lawmakers to defer until next year a required $3.8 billion payment to Illinois' public pension systems when they return to Springfield next week to put together a budget.
But Quinn declined to say what he'd do if legislators decide to put off the pension payment. The state $is 13 billion in debt and lawmakers --- particularly Republicans --- are reluctant to borrow money to make the pension payment for a second consecutive year.
“This is a moment of truth for the next week for the members of the Illinois General Assembly,” Quinn said during an appearance on “The Steve Cochran Show” on WGN-AM (720).
“I would say that we need some fortitude here and some common sense,” the governor said. “If legislators just want to kick and the can down the road and not deal with fundamental problems that affect the people of Illinois, they’re not living up to their responsibility.”
Without naming names but clearly pointing at his Republican governor foe, Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, Quinn said it wouldn’t be fiscally prudent to force the pension systems to divest long-term assets to cover costs instead of borrowing money to make the payment.
“There’s some legislators out there running around saying don’t do this (borrowing),” Quinn said. “Well, they’re fiscally irresponsible and the bottom line is that’s going to end up costing millions and millions of more dollars than we should have to pay.”
When lawmakers left the Capitol on May 7 without a final budget plan, some of them contended the proposed spending outline too heavily favored education at the expense of human service programs. Since that time, Quinn has been regularly meeting with legislators.
“I think basically legislators felt they wanted to make sure these fundamental programs were protected and I think I’ve made it pretty clear that’s where I’m coming from as well,” he said. “I hope we can pass a budget that probably will not be perfect but it has to be good enough to move our state forward.”