UPDATE 1-No deal yet on Illinois pension fix -state House speaker
CHICAGO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - A fix for Illinois' public pension crisis remained elusive on Saturday after a meeting between Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and legislative leaders failed to produce a deal.
State House of Representatives Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, said that it was still possible to reach a deal in time to be voted on early next week by the Legislature.
"There's no resolution today. We're going to continue to work throughout the weekend and right through Tuesday of next week to try and move legislation that will solve this funding problem of Illinois pension systems," Madigan told reporters following the meeting.
The House has scheduled a Sunday-through-Tuesday lame-duck session ahead of the start of a new legislative session on Wednesday. Quinn has been pushing the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass pension reforms before the new session begins.
Illinois' finances are buckling under the weight of a huge $96 billion unfunded pension liability that is rapidly siphoning off money needed for essential state services such as healthcare and public safety.
The lack of a pension fix has led to downgrades of Illinois' credit ratings, with Moody's Investors Service warning last month it could drop Illinois below the current A2 rating, the lowest among the states it rates.
A potential breakthrough on a pension fix surfaced on Friday when Quinn announced that Madigan had agreed to defer until a later date a measure to gradually shift state payments for teacher pensions onto local school districts. Republican lawmakers were concerned the move would lead to local property tax hikes.