Lawmakers to return two days after Election Day

Monday, October 25, 2010

SPRINGFIELD -- There won't be much time for any post-election celebrating among state senators and the two candidates for governor.

The Illinois Senate is scheduled to return to the Capitol on Nov. 4 -- two days after the election -- to take up a controversial plan to pay the state's employee pension obligations by borrowing money.

The state has not made any of its required contributions this fiscal year. The lack of funds has triggered a sell-off of assets by the pension systems.

The legislation would give Gov. Pat Quinn the power to sell up to $4.1 billion in bonds to finance this year's state share of the pension contribution.

The General Assembly adjourned in May without the Senate voting on the measure. It had squeaked through the House, but Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said there weren't enough votes in the Senate. The legislation needs the support of three-fifths of the Senate.

At the time, Republicans and Democrats expressed concerned about the effects of voting for more borrowing on their re-election chances. The fate of the measure could rest on the outcome of the election.

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said lawmakers must make a decision because the money will need to come via borrowing or out of the state's general checkbook.

"Somebody has got to make that payment," he said. "I'm hoping that after the election, cooler heads prevail."
In addition, the measure also is opposed by state Sen. Bill Brady, the GOP candidate for governor.

In a statement, Brady said the proposal "perpetuates a cycle of borrowing and spending that creates higher payments for future taxpayers and creates an even bigger budget hole to be addressed next year."

The legislation is Senate Bill 3514.