Radogno frustrated by lack of pension reform
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:39AM
SPRINGFIELD — Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno from Lemont expressed doubt but remained open to the possibility of Illinois lawmakers approving pension reform at the 11th hour.
“I’m very, very disappointed we have not been able to achieve comprehensive pension reform calling for bipartisan cooperation,” Radogno said Tuesday in the waning hours of the legislature’s lame duck session.
“The Republicans have been extraordinarily cooperative,” said Radogno, whose 41st district has included parts of Burr Ridge, Western Springs and La Grange. The new district drawn after the 2010 Census extends further west and south.
“The problem is the Democrats do not agree on what approach to take and they hold the majority,” she said. “As long as a bill is put before us and takes a big bite out of pension difficulties, I will be prepared to support it.”
Radogno said she considers House and then Senate approval of a pension package unlikely before new legislators are sworn in on Wednesday. But she left the door open.
“Never say never down here. We do have 24 hours,” she said. The state income tax hike in 2011 was passed at 2 a.m. with only Democrats voting in the last hours of the lame duck session, she recalled.
Pension reform will remain at the top of the agenda in Springfield once new legislators begin work, the Senate GOP leader said, along with fiscal concerns.
“Absolutely the budget, and the primary pillar underlying the entire budget is pensions. We’ve got to address that,” she said. “It’s too bad we’ll have a whole new group and they’re not as up to speed. It’s just a shame.”
Radogno said she expects the current session’s other hot button issues to resurface, including the assault weapons ban and gay marriage. She voted against both measures because of details in the bills.
The gay marriage bill “was seriously flawed. There were a lot of problems with respect to exempting churches,” she said. “Everyone recognizes opinion in this area is rapidly changing.”
Further discussion needs to take place on differences between provisions governing same-sex marriage and civil unions, she said.
Radogno called the assault weapons bill problematic, because it would have banned 80 percent of all guns, many of which are held by law-abiding citizens. More precise definition and further consideration of such a ban could be part of larger weapons discussions, including a new concealed carry law.
It will be up to state representatives and the governor if a bill passed by the Senate becomes law allowing undocumented residents to obtain an Illinois drivers license, she said.
“I was persuaded by the argument it’s a public safety issue,” Radogno said of her support.
Applicants will be required to take a road test, know driving rules and buy insurance, and authorities will have more information about undocumented residents than is currently available, she said.