Channeling Bill Murray

October 4, 2013 

The approaching Illinois legislative veto session should be a time of new beginnings, a fresh opportunity to enact needed pension reform. But more likely it will be a rerun of the movie "Groundhog Day" -- another failed attempt to agree on a way to fix the most underfunded state employee pension program in the nation.

A legislative committee has put together a plan that would save $138 billion over 30 years -- short of the $163 billion in savings in a previous House plan, but a whole lot better than a Senate proposal that would have saved $58 billion. "I think we're so close that we just need to agree to a middle ground and be done," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, the leader negotiator.

In her dreams.

Senate President John Cullerton supports the plan but it's not known whether House Speaker Michael Madigan will. The main state employee union thinks it's too much change; many state Republicans think it's not enough.

And then there's a procedural reason why lawmakers may delay. If a pension reform bill is passed in the veto session with simple majorities, it wouldn't go into effect until June 1. But if it is passed in January with simple majorities, it would go into effect immediately.

"But I do also think it's possible that it all breaks down possibly, too," Nekritz added. Possible and possibly in one sentence means the movie is about to start.

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