CHICAGO - Amidst a government shutdown and a debt ceiling, don't forget Illinois is in a crisis of its own.
"It's a matter of highest concern for everybody in Illinois" said Gov. Pat Quinn at the Southland Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Chicago.
Eight days before the fall "veto" session, the General Assembly's Pension Reform Conference Committee-formed last June-still hasn't drafted a bill to resolve the debt.
"I've worked with the members of the committee and I respect them all, but it's time now for them to come up with their final bill so it can be voted."
Sources say the conference committee is divided along party lines: democrats more sensitive to the cost increases and benefit cuts to teachers and other unionized public workers.
"Whatever reform we do shouldn't be solely on the backs of people who didn't do anything wrong" contends Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields).
But, minority republicans want more employee contributions and sacrifice in the reform bill.
"My personal feeling is that it needs to go further so we don't return in 10 years or 15 years" retorts Rep. Jim Durkin (R-IL House Minority Leader).
And one reform committee democrat will not support proposals under consideration because she says they don't go far enough to protect workers. "I don't know that I can support something if I really don't believe in it."
The pension debt and the possibility of higher taxes to pay for it, is blamed in part for Illinois' second highest in the nation unemployment rate.
"To help our economy, to help our jobs, is to resolve this $100 billion liability" says Quinn.
For a pension reform bill to pass during veto session and become effective immediately would require a super majority. Leader Durkin is doubtful. "It has to be a bill that has long range savings and one that's not going to have any additional burden on taxpayers in Illinois."