McGuire hopeful about deal on pension reform
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com January 14, 2013 3:44PM
Updated: February 16, 2013 6:16AM
State Sen. Pat McGuire said Monday that he’s optimistic some progress will be made on pension reform during the upcoming legislative session.
“I’m probably more famous for my Irish melancholy than for being a natural-born optimist, but I actually see a little ray of hope regarding pensions,” he said.
Three previous pension reform bills haven’t gone anywhere, but a new bill that combines all three prior proposals was introduced by Sen. President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, last week on the first day of the new session, McGuire said.
That and the fact that the We Are One Coalition, a blend of several state employee unions, recently announced its members are willing to chip in 2 percent more toward pension costs are positive signs, McGuire added. The coalition also called for a pension summit in January.
“The fact that that bill is on the table and the unions have said we want to come to the table, that gives me hope,” he said.
McGuire, D-Joliet, and newly minted state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, both spoke at the Joliet Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Legislative Update at the Patrick C. Haley Mansion in Joliet.
McGuire has been a senator for 11 months, but Bertino-Tarrant, the former Will County regional superintendent of schools, has been in office less than a week. She said she knows she has her work cut out for her because of the state’s dire fiscal condition.
“I’m going to pay for the sins of our predecessors,” she said of the mess confronting new legislators.
Both McGuire and Bertino-Tarrant said they will work to make sure pension reforms are fair to workers.
“I’m concerned about workers with relatively small pensions being protected from inflation,” McGuire said. “ ... Somebody who mopped floors at the unemployment office deserves retirement security.”
Bertino-Tarrant said she would work to protect pensions for workers who have already retired.
“People worked in the system and they retired in the system they expected these benefits, and I think that would be unfair that we take this away without any type of preparation,” she said.
Also Monday, McGuire said:
Even though Illinois Youth Center-Joliet is slated to close on Feb. 22, he said he would continue to work to save the state’s only maximum-security facility for youths.
The Illinois Department of Transportation appears to be serious about building the Illiana Expressway from Interstate 65 in Indiana to Interstate 55 in Will County.
He opposes a new casino that could come to southern Cook County because it would “cannibalize” revenue from Joliet’s two casinos. A gambling expansion bill has been sent to the governor for his approval, but it is not clear if he will sign or veto it, McGuire said.