Illinois General Assembly has one last week to act before this legislative session ends and a new one begins. The lame duck session begins this afternoon, when the Senate convenes. If procrastination is an art, it's one that state lawmakers have perfected. While the budget had long been a problem, it wasn't until the last General Assembly was on its way out that lawmakers passed an income tax hike. That was in January 2011. Fast forward two years, and the state budget's still a mess. Illinois' underfunded pension systems are a main culprit. And although it's been Governor Pat Quinn's top priority, he hasn't been able to get anything passed that would curb Illinois' costs by cutting retirement benefits. House Republican Leader Tom Cross and other legislative leaders negotiated over the holidays, but Cross still isn't sure anything will happen. He says politicians don't feel enough pressure from voters to get it done:
"If you're not a teacher or a state employee or retire employee, you're probably not all that concerned about pensions and you don't see how it directly impacts you."
Even if they don't realize it, Cross says the pension issue has a negative impact on Illinois residents.
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