SPRINGFIELD – The following statement was released by Senate President John J. Cullerton following historic legislative action of pension reform:

“The legislative process involves compromise. When it comes to pension reform, a compromise was found at the intersection of policy and political feasibility. The General Assembly stumbled at this intersection for years. Now it’s time to move forward and allow the courts to rule on the constitutionality of our approach.

Pension reform has been my top priority. In the most recent legislative session, I supported all three comprehensive pension reform bills – and sponsored two of them. In the same spirit of compromise and leadership, I am supporting a leaders’ agreement to end this political stalemate. I applaud the conference committee, legislative leaders and all of the members of the General Assembly who worked to bring us to this point.

Pension reform isn’t done. I am committed to building on our momentum and providing relief for our local communities facing similar problems. Specifically, it is critical that we turn our focus to the financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools’ pension system. I look forward to working with all leaders on this critical issue.”

Illinois Senate President applauds the vote for equal justice

SPRINGFIELD – Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement following Senate passage of SB 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act:

“Today is a significant day in the history of Illinois and the progress of equal rights under the law. The Senate was proud to take the lead and we are happy to have the legislature’s final word on the issue of marriage equality. I want to honor Senator Heather Steans and the entire coalition that worked to clear the way for loving couples to enjoy the full benefits of commitment and family in Illinois.”

Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement regarding Governor Pat Quinn’s FY14 Budget Address:

“Today Governor Quinn introduced a plan that appears balanced and holds the line on spending. I appreciate that his plan also reflects our true liabilities in entitlements and pensions. This year another $1 billion pension payment diverts our attention from every other budget priority. The inescapable truth is the enormity of our pension costs continues to crowd out essential services. Nowhere is that more evident than in education. Because of rising pension costs I understand why the Governor’s budget includes these painful cuts. However, we should all consider this an unacceptable option and work to fully restore education funding.

This reality reinforces why pension reform remains my top priority this session. For that reason I have notified all pension reform senate sponsors to present their bills before the senate executive committee within a week. I am also working to identify new revenue sources for education and priority programs. I believe that a gaming plan that is structured to address the ethical and regulatory concerns of Governor Quinn can be part of a new revenue mix. I look forward to working with the caucuses to advance more solutions to our funding shortfall. The Governor’s budget address marks just the beginning of the budget making process. The Senate and the House have also begun the appropriation process by agreeing to adopt the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. We look forward to working with the Governor to reconcile the differences between his $35.6 billion plan and our $35.1 billion spending cap.

I’m confident that if we work together we can improve the fiscal outlook for the state.”

Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement regarding the passing of Dawn Clark Netsch. In 1991, Cullerton was appointed to the Illinois Senate to fulfill the term of Dawn Clark Netsch representing the 6th legislative district:

“Because of the success of Dawn Clark Netsch, I began my career in the Illinois Senate. Born on the same day and in the same year as my dear mother, Dawn Clark Netsch has been a mentor throughout my career. As the first woman to run for governor, she has been a motivator for an entire generation of public servants. That is her lasting legacy.

In one of her final public appearances she received lifetime achievement award for her dedication and service for women and families in the state of Illinois. It was an honor to be among those giving Dawn the proud ovation that she had earned. She was a remarkable reformer with a tremendous career worthy of our recognition and praise.”