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Legislators Talk Pensions, Health Care, Jobs

Dold, Garrett stress cooperation at Chamber breakfast.

Whether they were discussing how to tackle health care, pension reform or unemployment, legislators at kept returning to the same solution: more cooperation.

said elected officials need to reach across party lines more frequently to pass job legislation. said legislators need to sit down with unions to deal with rising pension costs. And Illinois Department of  encouraged small business owners to offer suggestions for the institution of the Affordable Care Act.

"The number one issue that we face not only in Illinois but across the country is jobs and the economy," Dold said to the crowd gathered at the early last Friday morning. "The good news is that when I talk to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the number one issue is jobs and the economy as well."

The Chamber of Commerces from Highland Park, Highwood and Glencoe organized the event, which was presented by NorthShore University HealthSystem. moderated a panel that included Dold, Garrett and Hamos as well as Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Chief of Staff Andrew Moyer. was supposed to speak but did not attend.

Escalating pension crisis

Garrett discussed the state's rising pension obligations at last year's Legislative Outlook as well as this year's. Although the problem is not a new one, she said the time to address it is now.

"The pension issue has not just been a carryover from last year, it's been a carryover for the past decade," Garrett said. "This is the year I call 'Now or Never.'"

Garrett pointed out that local schools and universities "don't contribute much" to teacher's pensions, suggesting that increasing those contributions could help ease the state's financial burden.

"We do think that schools and universities have to have a dog in this fight," Garrett said.

The state senator also suggested that union leaders and legislators meet to tackle pension reform together. Highland Park resident and event attendee Pete Koukas said he didn't think this would work.

"The idea of getting unions and state regulators and legislators all to work together to resolve the pension problems is whistling dixie," Koukas said.

Creating jobs

The recently published jobs report showed that the country created over 240,000 jobs in January, making the topic of unemployment less morose than it was a year ago. 

"We need to build on that," Dold said. 

The congressman said that Illinois needed to create an environment that encouraged small businesses to hire more. He stressed the importance of bipartisanship and business regulations.

"We need regulations, but the regulations need to be smart regulations, not just more of them," Dold said.

Dold also lamented that some jobs bills are currently stuck in the Senate and said he shared a goal with President Barack Obama to double U.S. exports by 2014.

State vs. local financial burdens

asked the first question at the event, focusing on the state's budget problems. She asked the panel not to put the state's debt on municipalities that have already made difficult cuts to operate more affordably.

"We've done the heavy lifting," Rotering said. "Please don't turn around and add your burdens to our burdens."

After the event, attendee and said he planned to take Hamos up on her invitation to small business owners for feedback on health care reform. Anand said he was happy to get input from and ask questions of his legislators.

"I find it very productive to get the ideas across," Anand said.

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Deadcatbounce February 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
The crisis of government in America is that it does too many things badly instead of doing a few things well.
Deadcatbounce February 15, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Mr Krudop is there an amount of taxes you feel would be too high or an amount the school district spends per student you feel is too much?  When someone says they like to pay high taxes because it's a positive return, I see it as an emotional response that lacks logic.   Did you ever think that your kids did well because they were surrounded by high achieving students and adults.  My son went to high school in this area and had plenty of awful teachers.    Thanks to websites like Khan Academy he had no problem getting good grades and scoring high on standardized tests.
Deadcatbounce February 15, 2012 at 03:16 AM
The school districts have been complicit in creating this pension mess with their end of career boost in teacher and administrator salaries of over 30%. Maybe if the district had to pay the pension, pension padding would stop.
RB February 15, 2012 at 04:02 AM
This district pay padding has been going on for years. It has benefited the teachers and is costing the taxpayers. Perhaps current Union/management negotiations in 109 could address this issue. None of it for either Admin or Teachers in the future...that's a start.
Gary February 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM
"Surprisingly, its redistribution efforts are a much smaller portion of government spending than most people who toss around the word "confiscate" ever choose to admit. " 2011 Federal Spending 19.6% Social Security 16.1% Unemployment/Welfare 12.8% Medicare 8.2% Medicaid Total 56.7% , not counting the hundreds of other smaller social programs, and give-aways that masquerade as "green energy" programs, etc. 18.7% Dept of Defense We spend more than 3 times as much on redistributionist schemes than we spend on national defense. How much redistribution and confiscation are you willing to admit to?

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