Members of Illinois' General Assembly weren't supposed to return to the capitol until November, but they will be back in Springfield later this week for a special session. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has called for the special session on Friday to overhaul the state's pensions, even though lawmakers are still divided over the best way to do it.
There is an $83 billion gap in what the state has promised its employees they'll get when they retire, and what Illinois actually has in the bank. Legislators are in widespread agreement they have to do something to cut the state's pension costs.
In the spring, the Senate passed a measure that begins to do that, but it only applies to General Assembly members and state employees. Not affected are the benefits of public school teachers, university workers, and judges. That pushes aside having to resolve a dispute over how much school districts should have to pay versus the state.
But House Republicans say they won't back that partial solution.
"So it's a really significant bill, there's no question about the sufficiency of the bill, it's constitutional and it's already passed one chamber," Senator President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) responded. "So, I don’t know why the House Republicans wouldn't want to vote for it, I think it's a mistake."
The House GOP has said a measure that only deals with two pension funds is too weak, and lifts pressure on lawmakers to finish the job.