Chicago Sun-Times
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House Speaker Michael Madigan: Senate's no vote on pension reform signals 'lack of leadership'

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***Updated with Cullerton reaction ***

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said the Illinois Senate's failure to advance a pension reform measure he backed showed "a lack of leadership," in that chamber.

The Chicago Sun-Times caught up with Chicago Democrat just moments after the Illinois Senate torpedoed his pension reform plan.

When asked what he thought of the vote he initially responded: "not much."

Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton each advanced competing bills to solve the state's pension crisis. Madigan argued his went further in bringing savings, while Cullerton insisted that his version -- backed by unions -- was constitutional.

Could pension reform be salvaged? Could a compromise be reached?
That was the compromise, Madigan said of his plan: "It just failed in the Senate."

"The issue was always about cost savings," Madigan said. "I'm very disappointed."

Madigan said the failed measure signaled something else in the Senate.
"It's a lack of leadership," he went on to say that it took him one month, one month and a half to build consensus in his chamber and get the measure passed even though not everyone was happy with it.

"The Speaker and President Cullerton have different leadership styles. Let's leave it at that," said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon.

Madigan walked out the Capitol's front doors apparently en route to a meeting with Gov. Pat Quinn.

"I'm going to the mansion," he said.

Senate Republicans backed the bill, saying it wasn't perfect but it was the closest compromise out there.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard shook his head, telling the Sun-Times that the state's pension turmoil was on the cusp of a massive improvement -- before the failure.

"We were one hour away from finally putting us on a road to fiscal solvency," Dillard said, predicting it would have taken that long for it to win approval. "I find it incredible he cannot find six votes on his side of the aisle to pass this measure."

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sb 1 had no business passing and the Senate it was a disgusting insulting bill that was a slap in the face to our state of Illinois retirees and the current employees who have worked in years and years under horrible conditions understaffing ridiculous amounts of overtime and unsafe working conditions in mental health facilities and prisons shame on speaker mad again and anyone else who supported this bill.

The Senate actually had the gumption to do the right thing in spite of the pressure from the big money interests in Chicago.

They have my thanks and those of all reasonable public employees in Illinois. Now if the House just votes down the Cullerton bill, maybe we can relax for a couple of months.

The governor has long since reached the point of sounding like a broken record.

The issue is that current retirees are being forced to pay the brunt of the pension debt via the outright theft of the future earning power of their COLAs - that were so crucial in their decision to retire. They do not get a do-over on the terms and financial numbers given to them by SERS in their final agreement to leave State service. Their day was done when they retired; requiring them to fork over a third of their pension check is just absurd and I can't believe WUIS has not focused on this issue and has, instead, maid that issue the 900 lb. Gorilla in the Room by omission, Imagine the enormous financial impact of retirees spending one third less in their communities in Central Illinois and beyond.

The state is broke and will have to file bankruptcy due to the state employees who didn't put enough money in their retirement plans to sustain what they expect to get out. Only Jesus can take a couple loaves of bread and fish and feed thousands. The Unions will destroy the state as they have thus far.

This issue is such a no win situation. Either you screw the retired workers or screw the young families who never benefitted from the services offered by the retirees. Property taxes are already inordinate compared to other parts of the country. So many people who love this state want to leave for more economical places to live being forced out by the mismanagement of the politicians. We only have ourselves to blame because we continue to elect inept officials who make bad decision after bad decision. That is the problem it is bad decision after bad decision compounded on top of each other. When my youngest is 18 I am one who will be leaving as I refuse to tolerate the incompetence of the elected officials of the former great state of Illinois.

Those elected officials who voted against the Madigan " pension reform" are to be applauded for taking seriously their oath of defending the Constitution They realize the Madigan legislation for what it is: a scheme to steal from retired state employees, their hard earned pensions and benefits which are protected under the Constitution

Those elected officials , and the Governor who support the Madigan legislation need to look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are supporting this legislation? Could it be some are fearful of losing favor with Madigan? Could it be that some are not representing the people who put them into office, but instead are representing special interests such as the Chicago Commercial CLub? Could it be that they feel that retirees are a vulnerable group--so what if they end up as collateral damage?

Because of this pension mess created by past and current elected officials, the credibility and trustworthiness of State Government has been eroded. Because of misinformation from the media throughout this pension debate, there is now a rift in our State between the private and public sectors. Yesterday's vote by the Illinois Senate was a step in the right direction in restoring some credibility between the Illinois Legislature and its citizens

Those elected legislators , and the Governor should follow the leadership of those elected Senators who voted against the Madigan legislation, and support only legislation that supports the rule of law and honors their commitment to the Illinois Constitution. If they don't, their legacy will be one of destroying democratic values--values that our soldiers have died for over these years

Cullerton lacks courage. The State is broke. The state employees get better benefits than state tax payers.This is just wrong. The unions have bought and sold Democratic politicians for decades. Its time they dealt with the ramifications of their purchase - a state that cannot pay the absurd benefits that should never have been offered.

Pension reform is needed. However Mr. Madigan has no business lecturing anyone about leadership. As a delegate to the constitutional convention Mr. Madigan supported the wording that state pensions could not be diminished. As the majority leader of the Illinois House for 28 of the last 30 years he has consistently supported a budget that does not meet the state's obligation to fund the TRS pension plan or other public pensions knowing full well lost principal and interest would create a massive debt and has directly led to the current crisis. Mr. Madigan is inaccessible to the Illinois voters and inaccesible to public employees to whom HE made a pension committment. At least Mr. Cullerton worked with the affected public employees who have made 100% of their pension contributions as required.

@ Blaine - Sorry, but state employees put all the money they owed into their pensions. It gets taken out of their paychecks. No options. It is the Legislature and the Governor who have not contributed the State's share of the pension. Instead of putting in what is owed, they have used that money to benefit other programs, "borrowing" from the pensions. That means that taxpayers have benefited all these years from state employee compensation. If you do not know this, pensions are part of an employee's compensation which is negotiated between the Governor and the State's employees, both union and non-union. So it's time for the taxpayers to pay up what is owed.

As to the unions destroying the State, you do not seem to recall that State employee compensation is negotiated. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich agreed to the compensation and the Legislature approved the agreement. If the taxpayers didn't like it, they could have voted any of them out of office. I agree that the Unions have done very well for themselves over the last 10 years, but "the people" went along with it.


Simply an ignorant statement (in the most literal sense) by Blaine, as the comment above makes clear.

I can't blame Blaine for not knowing that state employees pay into their pensions every pay check, that's the bias coverage that the Tribune and other TV media has been drumming into readers heads. Its to bad people are angry at unions or thinking that their buying power with politicians is vast. IEA has a very tight budget and certainly can't compete with the Commercial Club of Chicago's mega buck resources. Politicians like Madigan, Dillard and Quinn who have been in the Illinois state government for over 25 years should go to jail for stealing state employees money.

Madigan we didn't see your Leadership when the State stopped paying into the Pension system over a decade ago and you and Daley loaded up the Board so it was easier to use the money as a open charge card so Family and Friends could make Money .

Nothing was done by the Illinois legislature-how is this a surprise? The Unions have these democrats kissng thier arses!

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