SPRINGFIELD | Gov. Pat Quinn is seeking to transform last week’s move to overhaul the state’s pension systems into some quick campaign cash.
With the ink barely dry on a new law that changes retirement benefits for state workers, the Democrat from Chicago sent out a fundraising solicitation to supporters Monday asking them to donate to his re-election campaign.
“The pension crisis was the biggest fiscal challenge Illinois has ever faced and getting this done is a historic win for the people of Illinois,” the letter from Quinn notes. “Let's keep moving forward.”
Quinn signed off on a plan Thursday that will alter pension benefits and the retirement age for school teachers, public university workers and other state employees in an effort to erase a $100 billion liability over the next three decades.
The measure raises the retirement age for workers under the age of 46 and reduces the cost of living increases for retirees. The changes affect Quinn, as well as his fellow constitutional officers, and all members of the General Assembly.
Although the law will be challenged in court and could be tossed out as unconstitutional, analysts say Quinn’s re-election attempts benefited from passage of the changes because he had put so much focus on the issue for the past few years.
The governor emphasized that sentiment in his email blast: “Since taking office, I have pushed for comprehensive pension reform to restore fiscal stability to our state. While there were no easy solutions to a fiscal crisis that was 70 years in the making, something had to be done in order to ensure retirement security for hardworking employees.”
Quinn was in Washington, D.C., Monday to participate in a series of meetings on issues ranging from the climate to transportation. He is expected to finish up those meetings today.
His campaign did not immediately return messages.
The governor faces little-known Tio Hardiman, of Hillside, in the March Democratic primary. Through Sept. 30, Quinn had $2.9 million in his campaign war chest, but hasn’t reported any large contributions since Nov. 25.
On the GOP side, Republican hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner reported collecting another six-figure contribution Monday, this one a $100,000 check from wealthy businessman Edgar D. Jannotta.
Rauner, a political newcomer who said the pension changes weren’t tough enough, has raked in dozens of massive contributions in recent weeks to help finance a television advertising campaign designed to raise his profile.
Other GOP candidates in the race include state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sens. Bill Brady of, Bloomington, and Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale.