Pensions conference committee to hold first hearing

 Conferees Raoul, Holmes and Biss discuss expectations for compromise


SPRINGFIELD. IL — A conference committee created during last Wednesday’s special session to reach a compromise on pension reform will hold its first public hearing. The 10 conferees — five from each chamber of the General Assembly — will meet at the Bilandic Building in Chicago at 11 a.m. Senate President John Cullerton appointed State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th), State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) to serve on the panel. The Democratic senators released the following statements in advance of the hearing:

Senator Raoul:

“Pension reform is at an impasse because it has become a pitched battle between two priorities: constitutionality and maximum savings,” said Raoul, who will chair the committee. “The final product won’t be anyone’s ideal outcome, but I’m optimistic that with open minds and an awareness of the price of inaction, we can report back with a plan that respects the constitution and fosters long-term fiscal stability.”


Senator Holmes:

“This conference committee gives us an opportunity to move forward on a comprehensive pension stabilization plan that is constitutional and fair,” Holmes said.  “I will continue to advocate for people who have spent their lives serving the people of Illinois.  During these negotiations, we must be conscious of the rights of working men and women as well as the economic security of retirees. Of course, this issue is about the state’s finances, but we should remember it is also about people’s lives.”


Senator Biss:

“Our attempts to enact significant pension reform have hit a genuine roadblock in Springfield, and by creating a conference committee, we have taken a meaningful step in order to address this growing crisis,” Biss said. “Like many others, I have strong feelings about the pension reform proposals we’ve seen in the recent past, but we must all recognize that none of these proposals is likely to move forward without significant compromise. I am eager to work with my colleagues to finally find a solution that addresses our legal and ethical concerns yet still achieves adequate savings.”


Six of the ten conferees must sign their names to a plan for it to become the official report of the committee, and the House and Senate must approve whatever solution the group proposes before it can be sent to the governor for his signature.