Illinois lawmakers miss pension reform deadline

CHICAGO, July 9 Tue Jul 9, 2013 6:41pm EDT

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CHICAGO, July 9 (Reuters) - Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday missed a deadline set by Governor Pat Quinn to enact pension reform, leaving a bipartisan conference committee to continue working to reach a compromise.

Illinois is struggling with a nearly $100 billion unfunded liability for its five retirement funds. Lawmakers ended the spring legislative session on May 31 at an impasse on pension reform. Pension payments are squeezing spending for core state services, such as education and healthcare.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Senate met on Tuesday to override Quinn's veto of gun legislation then adjourned without action on pension reform.

The 10-member conference committee, comprised of members from both chambers, made it clear during a meeting Monday that it would have no bill ready in time for Tuesday's one-day legislative session. The panel is awaiting actuarial reports on projected savings from various proposed reforms.

"Every time we've had a deadline, the legislature's ignored it, or broken through that deadline, bad things have happened for the taxpayers of Illinois," Quinn said at a news conference following the adjournment. He mentioned downgrades by major credit rating agencies that have left Illinois with the lowest ratings among states due to its continued inaction to curb pension costs.

The Democratic governor said he is giving lawmakers until midnight Tuesday then, "we'll see what happens."

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