Pension Special Session Set To Create Conference Committee

Members of Illinois’ General Assembly return to the capitol Wednesday for a special session on pensions, where they’re expected to pass off the problem to a yet another legislative committee.

House Speaker Mike Madigan sits in the front row at a pension committee Tuesday.

House Speaker Mike Madigan sits in the front row at a pension committee Tuesday.

What to do about Illinois’ $100 billion pension debt has confounded legislators for years.

The most recent barrier: the House and Senate — as well as the chambers’ respective leaders — are fixated on different plans.  So they’ve agreed to a new approach they’re putting in motion Wednesday.

The House and Senate will each send five members (three Democrats, and two Republicans) to a joint, “conference committee.”

“And hopefully the people appointed to the conference committee, will be able to strike a compromise on the issue,” House Speaker Mike Madigan says.

The Chicago Democrat says he won’t personally serve on it.

“I want others to share in the glory,” he says.

But that raises the question – who WILL be on the committee, and where will their loyalties lie?

“And I think that’s where the concern is,” Rep. Darlene Sengers (R-Naperville) says.  “How this conference is controlled, who gets appointed to the committees, how long do the committees last, what … where is the final say on everything? What regulations do you put in it?”

Senger was part of a previous legislative panel assigned to come up with a pension overhaul, but that plan never went anywhere.

-Amanda Vinicky

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