SPRINGFIELD — Anyone wondering what Gov. Pat Quinn might do to rally support for an overhaul of the state’s pension systems need look no further than cyberspace.
Quinn, who says he is planning to launch a grassroots pension lobbying effort, already has a web page dedicated to the cause.
The site - www.saveourstate.illinois.gov - urges Illinoisans to call their representatives in the General Assembly to lobby for Quinn’s pension changes, which would require workers to pay more of their pay toward their retirements and slash annual cost of living adjustments for retirees.
“We must be able to provide funding for core government services things like educating our children, ensuring public safety and access to basic human services,” the site notes. “Every dollar we spend on pensions and Medicaid is a dollar we don’t spend on grants, community programs and initiatives that many of us depend upon.”
It remains unclear what strategy Quinn plans to employ in the wake of a failed special legislative session on pension reform. During a stop in Decatur on Saturday, he said the pension push would be focused on the Internet and social media.
“Please add your support by telling your elected legislators that we must have true pension reform as soon as possible to restore fiscal stability to Illinois, strengthen our economy and make sure our state is in good shape for the next generation,” the website notes.
Quinn and the General Assembly have been squabbling over how to address more than $83 billion in unfunded liability in the retirement systems affecting state workers, teachers, university workers, legislators and judges.
In addition to adding costs for current workers and reducing annual adjustments for retirees, Quinn and Democratic leaders have suggested making downstate school districts pay a bigger share of their employee pension costs.
Republicans say that will force school districts to raise property taxes.
“Delaying, deferring, or denying this challenge is not an option. This isn’t about politics no matter where you stand, Illinois must address this problem. Today,” the site notes.
Legislative leaders gave the website mixed reviews.
“The Senate President is encouraged by any efforts to achieve a bipartisan, comprehensive pension solution,” said Ronald Holmes, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
“This does not move the needle at all,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.