And we’re bringing our economy back, lowering unemployment from 11.4 percent at the peak of the Great Recession to 8.7 percent today.
But we have a long way to go.
And we cannot allow our economic recovery to be held hostage by the pension crisis.
We simply must act.
Our vision for our Illinois cannot be fully realized without pension reform.
This problem cannot be delayed, deferred, or delegated to the next session... to the next generation.
President Cullerton, thank you for recognizing this, and thank you for your leadership in providing us a path forward through Senate Bill 1, a comprehensive bill that stabilizes our pension systems and fixes the problem.
And thank you, Leader Tom Cross and Representative Elaine Nekritz for working together on a bi-partisan basis to make sure that pension reform is Job One for this General Assembly.
I urge all of you to be part of the solution. And while refinements may come, Senate Bill 1 is the best vehicle to get the job done.
Hard is not impossible.
Last year was an election year, but many of you in this chamber did not let that stop you from working together to reduce our Medicaid liability by $2 billion. That wasn’t easy to do with a $14 billion program, but you did the right thing.
You also worked with me to abolish the much-abused legislative scholarship program. That program was around for more than 100 years.but you did the right thing.
And when I proposed closing 54 facilities across Illinois to save taxpayers millions of dollars, some of you weren’t happy.but we got it done.because it was the right thing to do.
As you look around this chamber, please realize: you are the answer. What we all need in this coming session is courage, real political courage to do the right thing.