CHARLOTTE, NC -- Word travels fast when it comes to utterances from House Speaker Michael Madigan -- even if he's making news in a faraway state.
The Chicago Democrat and chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois hinted at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday that a pension-reform deal could surface during a possible lame-duck legislative session next January, when it will be easier to pass bills. Madigan also for the first time suggested a package might pass with only Democratic votes.
On Wednesday, Madigan's GOP counterparts -- House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) -- weighed in on the speaker's remarks, warning that the scenario Madigan hinted at could lead to a big property tax hike for downstate and suburban residents.
"We fear that Democrat leaders' recent comments about passing a pension reform bill in January with Democrat-only votes will lead to a massive property tax increase, just like they shoved through the largest income tax increase on Illinois residents two years ago," Cross and Radogno's joint statement said.
"We can't keep throwing new revenue at our problems, especially from the taxpayers in this state. We remain committed to passing real, comprehensive pension reform in a bi-partisan way that does not include another enormous tax increase on our residents," the GOP leaders said.
The GOP concern is directed at Madigan's continued insistence this week that a pension deal require that downstate and suburban school districts start picking up the state's share of pension costs for educators in those school systems, a cost shift that Gov. Pat Quinn's administration once estimated could free up as much as $20 billion for the state.