State lawmakers adjourned a one-day special session today without approving even a scaled-back version of pension reform.
Prospects for a major breakthrough on an issue were bleak before the House and Senate returned to the Capitol.
But even a measure to address one of the five retirement systems --- the one for elected officials --- failed to get traction.
House Speaker Michael Madigan adjourned the House without a final vote on the measure. The Senate had left town an hour earlier, rendering House action moot.
Earlier, a key House lawmaker said legislators would only vote today on changes to the pension system for state elected officials, including themselves.
"It's a demonstration of what needs to be done," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat. "It's a demonstration that we're willing to go first."
That would have left unresolved the pension systems for state workers, university employees, judges and teachers outside Chicago. If nothing is done, the state's unfunded liability is expected to hit $93 billion by next summer.
Democrats and Republicans can't agree on how to proceed with a comprehensive pension overhaul to cut costs and stabilize the system. With an election looming Nov. 6, Democrats and some Republicans are reluctant to anger unions that provide campaign contributions and volunteers.
There's also a dispute between the parties about whether the state should shift teacher pension costs for Downstate and suburban educators back to local school districts. Democratic leaders say the state should do the shift, but Republican leaders say that amounts to a major property tax hike outside Chicago.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has pushed for broader reform, but the pre-election political gamesmanship among Democratic and Republican legislative leaders is proving that task tough to achieve.
Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said introduced an amendment to eliminate future lawmakers from the retirement system for elected officials, including statewide officials.
Franks said it would be added to legislation that would ask for current and former lawmakers to choose between scaling back pension increases and getting health care in retirements.
"I don't think anyone who has a part-time job should be eligible for a pension," Franks said. "We're supposed to keep our day jobs to keep us grounded."
Franks said the current lawmakers would be allowed to keep their pensions. Franks said he does not know whether the Senate will take up the bill.
The measure passed a House panel on a 5-4 vote.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times