Gov. Quinn: Illinois lawmakers need to be like Blackhawks - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Gov. Quinn: Illinois lawmakers need to be like Blackhawks

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With Illinois's worst-in-the-nation credit rating on very thin ice. Governor Quinn hailed the speed-skating Chicago Blackhawks for showing how to solve Illinois's budget-busting pension debt.

Quinn's mash-up of hockey and politics, though, appeared to leave the General Assembly's top two leaders cold. The three men met today for the first time in weeks, but seem no closer to an agreement.

The more we thought about the governor's elaborate analogy, the more we wondered how it would look, if the State Capitol's fussing, feuding Democrats actually strapped on skates and took to the ice.

"I went to the game the other night, the Blackhawks game, one of the greatest hockey games every played and I saw Jonathan Toews assist Patrick Kane, who scored the winning goal. And that's the kind of teamwork that we need in Illinois," Quinn said. "The Blackhawks have shown the way. If John Cullerton can help like Jonathan Toews in setting up Patrick Kane, as Mike Madigan would score the goal."

Quinn-ville might be the name of the team's coach in the governor's alternative universe. In the real world, however, the Speaker of the House, who prefers a stationary bicycle to ice skates, was unmoved by Pat Quinn's request in Monday's meeting. Quinn asked the General Assembly to pass two competing versions of public employee pension reform. That would effectively kick the issue to the State Supreme Court.

Speaker Madigan, noting the governor had supported his plan because it would save taxpayers far more than the other proposal, told Quinn it's time to twist arms in the senate, where his bill needs 14 additional votes.

"I think this is the time for the governor to step up," Madigan said. "Meet with Senator Cullerton. Meet with these senators one at a time. And persuade them of the urgency of this."

Illinois's budget-busting pension debt will grow by $17 million every day, until legislators act.

"That's the outcome the people want. That's what our economy needs. That's what our education needs," Quinn said.

When the General Assembly returns to the Capitol a week from this Wednesday, Senate President Cullerton said he'll try to honor the governor's request: put both pension reform proposals into one bill and pass it.

He might have the votes, but because legislators blew right through their May 31 deadline, the bill likely not take effect until next year. All the while, that $100 billion pension debt grows ever more mountainous.

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