Governor Pat Quinn today hosted a town hall meeting with students at Julian Middle School about the urgent need for pension and Medicaid reform. With just 9 days left before the end of spring legislative session, the governor continued his push to stabilize Illinois' Medicaid and pension systems and educate the public about our fiscal challenges. During the visit, Governor Quinn took questions from 8th graders about their stake in what happens in Springfield this session and the impact that these two issues have on the future of Illinois.
"At its core, this battle to resolve our fiscal challenges is about the future of our children," Governor Quinn said. "If we want to educate our kids and ensure they are ready for the workforce, our moment is now. We must assume responsibility to build a better future for our children. We must work together to get these vital reforms done."
During the discussion at Julian Middle School, students had the opportunity to ask Governor Quinn questions about what state government does, how it is funded and why they should get involved in causes they believe in. The governor explained how education funding is being squeezed by the unsustainable growth in the Medicaid and pension systems, and what can be done to rescue the systems to ensure their sustainability for generations to come.
Public pensions and Medicaid currently take up 39% of state general revenue spending, and will grow to 50% next year without major reforms. Inaction could also severely limit the state's ability to fund core services like education and public safety, threaten the state's credit rating and hurt the long-term sustainability of both systems. The visit comes a day after the Medicaid restructuring legislation was filed to reform Illinois' Medicaid system and the Illinois Farm Bureau added its support to the governor's plans to rescue and stabilize Illinois' broken pension and Medicaid systems.
Governor Quinn's plan to stabilize public pensions would save taxpayers up to $85 billion, eliminate the unfunded liability over 30 years and allow public employees who have faithfully contributed to the system to continue to receive pension benefits. His Medicaid restructuring plan would create $2.7 billion in savings by cutting waste, fraud and abuse; raising the price of cigarettes by one dollar, and bringing in dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds.
For more information about the urgency of repairing Illinois' Medicaid and public pension systems and to take action, visit SaveOurState.illinois.gov.