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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Pension Talks May Arise Again

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Little changed about Illinois pensions since the state's high court declared lawmakers' last attempt unconstitutional. But the state's leaders signaled they may be ready to talk about trying again.

“No one wants to talk about it, but we have to.” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said last week while leaving a private meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders, where Durkin says they had a healthy discussion about pensions. “Unfunded liability continues to grow. We can't lose sight of that. We can get there at some point.”

Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year, despite its fiscal troubles. That’s a quarter of the state’s expected revenue.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says what to do about underfunded pension systems was a topic of discussion at their meeting with the governor last week in Chicago. But the Democrat didn't sound encouraged by the prospect.

"It gets terribly complicated,” Madigan said. “Bottom line for understanding is that when the governor talks about changes in the pension laws, he always talks about changes to collective baring. That’s important to understand.”

Democrats oppose the governor’s plans to curtail unions. They went months without meeting jointly, but the leaders and governor are expected to talk again soon. One subject could include pensions. The House Republican Leader -- Jim Durkin -- left the last meeting calling the negotiations complicated. He says there are different views about how to move forward, but there are options.

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