SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) criticized Democrat leaders in Springfield following a special session Wednesday for continuing to delay action on meaningful public pension reform.
Members of the House and Senate voted during the special session to send two competing pension reform proposals to a conference committee made up of five senators and five representatives.
Barickman says Democrat leaders like Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton have had months to resolve the issue. But, instead, they have failed to show leadership and have left taxpayers on the hook as the pension debt grows by $17 million a day.
The state's unfunded pension liability is already estimated to be nearly $100 billion. Just since the legislature adjourned on May 31, the pension debt has grown by over $300 million that, eventually, taxpayers will be forced to cover.
Barickman says taxpayers were also on the hook for about $40,000 to bring the legislature back to Springfield for one day simply to form the conference committee.
"I continually shake my head at each failure after failure by the leaders on pension reform," said Barickman. "The people of Illinois deserve better. And it's not fair to retirees, active workers, or taxpayers to put this problem off any longer."
Barickman says he is specifically disappointed in Governor Quinn during recent pension negotiations.
"All the Governor has done is say that he'll sign whatever bill the legislature passes," said Barickman. "He needs to stop leading from behind, get his hands dirty, and engage himself in the process."
Barickman says he's hopeful the conference committee will finish its work quickly so meaningful pension reform may be enacted as soon as possible.