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Pension committee already sparking war of words

CHICAGO -- A special committee of lawmakers devoted to pension reform met for the first time Thursday, and the meeting is already sparking a war of words on the issue.
CHICAGO -- A special committee of lawmakers devoted to pension reform met for the first time Thursday, and the meeting is already sparking a war of words on the issue. Lawmakers were critical of a July 9 deadline Governor Pat Quinn has set for them to reach an agreement. Quinn plans to call lawmakers back to Springfield to vote on a deal then.

"I think it's setting yourself up for failure," said Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), a chair of the committee.

"I really feel these folks on that committee that are charged with getting a compromise agreement that can get the job done should focus on that goal and not complain," Quinn responded at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The governor was critical of the fact the committee was appointed eight days ago and is just meeting for the first time. In their first public hearing, lawmakers heard from many of the same stakeholders they've heard from over the past two years. Not many new ideas were presented on how to fix the problem.

A suburban Chicago democrat did present a plan to the committee to keep a tax increase lawmakers passed in 2011 and increase employee contributions while keeping cost of living increases for retirees at the same rate. The committee is planning another meeting for Wednesday.
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