Union leaders met with Governor Pat Quinn and members of the legislature Monday to talk about the state’s underfunded pension system. They billed it as a chance to work together on a divisive issue. But as Brian Mackey reports, the two sides remain far apart.
The unions represent a range of government workers, from prison guards to teachers. After the meeting, they issued a statement saying it shows they can “work together constructively with all parties.” But many of the key players in the pension debate skipped today’s meeting.
Of the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, only House Republican Leader Tom Cross was in attendance. He says “not a whole lot” was accomplished.
Quinn and legislative leaders say a reduction in benefits is necessary, but unions oppose that. They suggest eliminating business tax breaks and are offering to have workers pay two percent more toward retirement, but Cross says that’s not enough.
CROSS: “The reality is, from a pure math standpoint, the benefits that people receive, you’re not paying an adequate amount to sustain those benefits.”
Cross says the unions asked the governor to only support legislation that has union backing, but Quinn refused. The unions plan to have more meetings, but legislators say they’re moving ahead with their own proposals.
— Brian Mackey