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State Leaders Take Baby Steps Toward Meeting Again

Even with all of its fiscal troubles ... Illinois will have to put nearly 8 billion dollars into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue.  Legislative leaders and the governor may be ready to talk about how they may be able to reduce costs. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

A couple of years ago, the statehouse was fixated on what Illinois was doing about its underfunded pension systems. Ultimately, lawmakers passed a bipartisan package that reduced workers' benefits ... only for it to be declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

Since then, there's been little serious discussion about the pension situation. Until now.

DURKIN: No one wants to talk about it but we have to. unfunded liability continues to grow.  We can't lose sight of that. we can get there at some point.

That's House GOP Leader Jim Durkin last week, as he left a private meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders ... a meeting where Durkin says they had a healthy discussion about pensions.

It's a divisive issue to begin with. But there's already an added complication. When he left that meeting the House's top Democrat - Speaker Michael Madigan - said Gov. Bruce Rauner has tied his pension ideas to collective bargaining --- the very issue at the heart of Illinois' budget stalemate.

I'm Amanda Vinicky.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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