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Scott Walker Visits Chicago, Offers Advice On Pension Reforms And Olive Branch Between States

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Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker speaks at his victory party Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Waukesha, Wis. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a special recall election. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker speaks at his victory party Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Waukesha, Wis. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a special recall election. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker paid a visit to a neighboring state also known for its fair share of gubernatorial drama Monday.

After speaking during a luncheon hosted by the Commercial Club of Chicago, Walker addressed the issue of public-sector pension funding, an area where Illinois is facing significant financial problems.

The Wisconsin governor extended his neighbor an olive branch, emphasizing that "a strong Illinois, particularly a strong Chicago,” is good for his state, and advising Illinois to focus on job growth on top of pension reform, WBEZ reports.

Walker's advice carries some weight, since Wisconsin is the only state whose pension system is 100 percent funded, while Illinois' is the nation's most cash-strapped program, with only 45 percent of the necessary funding secured, according to CBS Chicago.

At Monday's press conference, Walker warned that "a certain amount of push-back is inevitable" when negotiating pension adjustments with workers unions, but advised from experience that "more the public is involved, the better," Crain's Chicago reports.

Walker's speech noticeably downplayed lingering tensions with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, with whom he's locked horns over fights for ownership of big-ticket companies and production plants in recent years.

The Illinois governor hasn't been as reticent. Quinn slammed Walker on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" in April, and in a statement responding to Walker's last visit to Chicago to dole out advice, Quinn noted that "one would wonder what a governor with a terrible economic record could have to say about jobs and economic growth."

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