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Radogno: Fall veto session underway in state capitol

Community Voice

Coined the fall “veto” session for a reason, each year lawmakers return to Springfield in late fall to take legislative action on bills vetoed by the Governor.

However, this year vetoed bills aren’t expected to drive the fall legislative agenda.

In fact, out of the nearly 600 bills approved by the General Assembly last spring, the Governor has issued only 10 vetoes. And of those 10, action has been taken on seven of the bills, leaving only three veto measures left for legislators to deliberate.

While vetoed legislation may be scarce, it seems legislators will have their hands full with other issues.

Bills have been introduced to provide tax incentives to a major Illinois employer, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which has requested a tax credit as an incentive to keep its global headquarters in Illinois. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for legislation to increase mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun crimes and legislation allowing same sex marriage in Illinois could be called for a vote in the House of Representatives.

However, the possibility of comprehensive public employee pension reform continues to draw the most speculation. A bipartisan Conference Committee of House and Senate lawmakers met throughout the summer and early fall, charged with developing a workable solution to the state’s pension woes.

With only 39 cents in assets for every $1 of obligations, Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the nation. Conservative estimates have placed the state’s pension debt at $100 billion – and rising.

As a result, Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded 12 times in the past five years – costing taxpayers – and its pension obligations continue to drain revenues that could be used for other necessary expenditures, including education, infrastructure improvements and public safety.

The Conference Committee has developed a workable framework to lower the state’s pension costs. Components include delaying and lowering state retirees’ future cost-of-living-adjustments, capping pensionable salary and a state commitment to re-invest resources from paid-off bond payments into the pension systems.

As we begin the second week of the fall veto session, I am hopeful we can build on that framework to include additional elements and achieve greater savings. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and I are working together to craft a responsible solution to stabilize the state’s pension systems for the retirees who count on them and lower the burden on the taxpayers footing the bills.

Finally, it is a pleasure to welcome State Rep. Durkin (R-Western Springs) in his new role as House Republican Leader.

Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) is a state senator for Illinois' 41st Senate District and the Illinois Senate Republican Leader.

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