Speaker declines summit invitation; unions respond

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has declined to participate in a summit meeting intended to help state leaders and public employee unions develop a fair and constitutional solution to the Illinois pension problem.

The We Are One Illinois labor coalition sent invitation letters for the February 11th summit to Governor Pat Quinn and the four top legislative leaders. But on Wednesday, Madigan sent his response Ito Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan and made it clear he’ll not be attending the summit:

Your letter implies pension reforms faltered because the concerns of labor were not considered. In my view, the positions of organized labor were taken into account during the 2012 legislative session. I recall no fewer than eight high-level meetings that took place with labor, legislative leaders and the governor. At that time, I felt there was little willingness from representatives of labor to draft a comprehensive, common-sense solution.

The labor coalition responded to Madigan’s rejection of the summit by pointing out that labor has offered a framework for a fair and constitutional solution, but has been ignored by the state’s elected leaders.

Our coalition has already put forward a plan that addresses the intertwined problems of inadequate revenues and underfunded pensions. It would end the practice of politicians shorting actuarially required payments to the retirement funds; ease state budget pressures by closing wasteful tax loopholes, especially for big corporations; and require active public employees to pay more toward the pensions they earn and rely on. Our plan would provide at least $2.35 billion a year to stabilize the retirement funds, while preventing cuts to retirees who worked hard and played by the rules.

The We Are One Illinois plan has the potential to be a starting point for participatory discussions around a pension-funding solution. Crucially, we believe that pension legislation supported by all parties is the only way to meet constitutional muster and avert costly and time-consuming court battles.

Read Speaker Madigan’s letter

Read the We Are One Illinois coalition statement

Read more about the labor coalition’s ideas for addressing the state’s pension issue


  1. Bruce Basile says:

    Madigan failed to fund our retirements now he wants us to fix it out of our pockets. He is in for the fight of his life and he knows it !

  2. Mark Doyle says:

    Madigan again shows that he has no interest in real solutions that are fair and constitutional. Each idea he has pursued has only come at the expense of teachers who have devoted a life of public service to this state.

  3. Catherine Lenzini says:

    I read Speaker Madigan’s letter and I am really troubled by his rhetoric. In his letter, he states that unions have not cooperated with the Legislators and/or Governor and a summit at this point is “untimely.” He states that the time to “come to the table” is long passed – that we (the unions) should have addressed the financial fiscal crisis years ago when pension reform was first brought up.

    If I recall, Mike Madigan was a legislator throughout the entire period that the legislators took “pension holidays.” He is one of the guiltiest of all parties in this fiasco. Now he says that the unions haven’t done enough???? He complains that we aren’t doing enough yet he was one of the critical participants in this and takes no accountability.

    The problem isn’t pension benefits. This political double-speak is getting old and perhaps it worked a decade or two ago but it isn’t going to work now.

    The financial disaster that the state of Illinois faces must be addressed by every taxpayer and corporation in Illinois – not just the public employees. We’ve already paid into this system and shouldn’t have to bear the cost of fixing this problem that Madigan was a co-creator!

    Enough! Something must be done – but the conversation has to include all stake-holders. How easy it was for the legislators to throw blame at public employees. I’m certain they are surprised how angry and responsive we’ve been.

    This issue won’t be solved because Speaker Madigan doesn’t want it solved. We all know that Madigan gets what he wants. If Mike Madigan wanted to truly solve the state’s financial problems, he would certainly do what is necessary to accomplish this.

    Illinois is ranked 50th in terms of “worst financial trouble” or is it that we are No. 1? We are the worst state in the nation! It seems to be that if teachers are to be evaluated based on the performance of their students, perhaps the legislators should be evaluated by how they run the state. Being 50th??? They have FAILED! (and now they want to blame us!)