Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn pushed for a legislative committee to come to a compromise on pension reform Monday, warning in the Quad-Cities that there would be "consequences" if it didn't do so.
The governor spoke to a lunch gathering of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce in Rock Island, saying the time has come for action on the state's massive $98 billion pension shortfall.
Quinn has said the panel should produce a plan by July 9, a deadline that some on the committee have called unrealistic. But the governor said proposals have been around for a long while and the committee needs to come up with a compromise by next week.
"They've got to get the job done," he said. "So next week, I think it's the 9th, a week from tomorrow, they better have it done. Otherwise, there will be consequences. We cannot allow our Legislature to meander along, dilly-dally on something that's harming our economy."
Afterward, the governor used the same language with reporters.
"They get paid to work, and if they're not doing their job, there's consequences," he said.
Quinn, who is up for re-election next year, has faced criticism that he's failed to lead on the pension issue. But Quinn said it was up to legislators to come up with a deal, although he said his staff has been willing to work with the committee.
After lawmakers failed to come up with a deal to resolve the issue a few weeks ago, bond rating agencies downgraded the state's credit rating, which has cost the state millions already.
Quinn didn't say what he meant by consequences when asked about it by reporters later.
"We'll see what happens on the 9th of July," he said.
Quinn told the chamber group Monday he wanted to see the shortfall erased, and in answer to a question from the audience about the Senate's plan to reform the state's pension system, the governor took a dim view of the measure, saying it didn't meet that test.
Afterward, state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, said he didn't think the legislative committee would reach a deal by July 9.
As for Quinn's remark about "consequences," Smiddy said he thought it referred to damage to the state's economy if a pension deal is not reached.
"I hope he didn't mean it for the Legislature," he said.
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Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said afterward he thinks the governor will sign any deal if it's credible. Verschoore said he could support the Senate bill.
"I think if they put something on his desk, he'll sign it if it's anywhere close" he said.
Both Verschoore and Smiddy voted against the House pension reform plan, which advocates say would reduce the state's pension shortfall the most. Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton, however, says that it would not be constitutional.
Critics of the Senate plan say it doesn't reduce the shortfall enough.
Quinn said he thought there could be a deal where "everyone takes a haircut but nobody gets scalped," referring to state workers and taxpayers.
Quinn also visited the Rock Island Arsenal, and he praised the Quad-City Manufacturing Lab, a nonprofit that is located on the island.
The governor said it was important to support such facilities in the search for advanced manufacturing jobs.