The final word on pensions will come from the discussion on three men: Gov. Pat Quinn (front), Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (center), and Senate President John Cullerton. (photo used under Creative Commons/flickr)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - A local business organization says the state needs a pension resolution - and it needs one now.
The McLean County Chamber of Commerce is adding its two cents to the state's pension discussion. Director of Government and Public Affairs Ryan Whitehouse said while local business wants a resolution, not every reform is preferred.
"Our concern is whether he is supporting President Cullerton's proposal - what some are calling a pass-through but we are calling a cram-down to local districts - we have major concerns and hesitations about that."
While the number of unfunded pensions climbs well over $96 billion Whitehouse is concerned about the impact on local schools.
"Where's that revenue going to come from?" Whitehouse said. "The only revenue that we can see for our local schools, universities, and community college is from tax increases. We already know Illinois is highly taxed so where are individuals and consumers going to come up with that money?"
Whitehouse said the Chamber is pushing lawmakers toward comprehensive pension reform, something he hopes will find a vote this spring. Ultimately, he doesn't want to see a pension pushback for parties not involved in the final decision. The other main message he had was that concerns over pensions must still be expressed clearly to the Illinois General Assembly.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.