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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Illinois Gov. Suspends Lawmakers’ Pay Over Pension Crisis

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks during a news conference announcing he would use his line-item veto on a bill that would suspend Illinois Lawmakers' pay during a new conference Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks during a news conference announcing he would use his line-item veto on a bill that would suspend Illinois Lawmakers’ pay during a new conference Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

There’s a saying in Illinois: “Grab their wallets and their hearts and minds will follow,” which is exactly what Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has done.

He’s “grabbed the wallets” of none other than every member of state legislature, saying lawmakers will not receive a salary until they fix the state’s public employee pension plan. It’s $100 billion in debt, the highest in the nation.

Governor Quinn has also suspended his own pay. We hear from the governor, as well as from Illinois state representative Elaine Nekritz.

Interview Highlights: Gov. Pat Quinn

“Up to now the taxpayers have been paying literally millions of dollars a day that the liability goes up, so now it’s time for legislatures to get hit in the pocketbook, in the wallet, and I think that certainly has gotten their attention over the last 24 hours.”

“I made it crystal clear to our Illinois General Assembly, I’m not going to sign any piecemeal budget plan or pension plan. It’s got to be comprehensive, it’s got to erase $100 billion liability. We’ve laid out the specifics for them, it can be done. ”

Interview Highlights: Rep. Elaine Nekritz

“The House and the Senate have a very different view of how to resolve the pension issue and I don’t know that taking away paychecks will move them to a different policy position than they were before.”

“I think the legislature is paying attention. And both the House and the Senate passed pension reform bills in May. We have some honest policy disagreements on how to do that and that’s we are in the process of right now, to get that done. Now hearts and minds don’t change on a dime and we don’t get numbers out of the actuaries in something other than two weeks, so are we taking some time get this right? Yes.”

Guests:

  • Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois.
  • Elaine Nekritz, Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 57th District.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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