(MCT) — With each passing day, it’s more apparent Illinois government more closely resembles the old children’s TV series, “Romper Room,” than what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created the legislative and executive branches of government.
The latest event that leads us to that conclusion surrounds one of the least surprising developments of the year, which is the fact the General Assembly’s special pension committee blew through the July 9 deadline set by Gov. Pat Quinn to enact meaningful pension reform without, well, actually doing anything.
It wasn’t hard to predict the committee was going to miss the deadline. Quinn, in fact, may be the only resident of Illinois who is truly surprised the committee didn’t bow to his will and act on command. There was scant evidence the committee would act before the deadline.
The panel has taken its time to analyze various pension fixes and how much they would save. The 10-member group hopes to have its analysis complete by July 19. That study includes a proposal drafted largely by the University of Illinois’ Institute for Government and Public Affairs that would require workers to pay more toward their retirement and links cost-of-living increases to inflation.
It also shifts the employer pension contribution currently paid by the state to the schools over time, and guarantees the state will make its full annual payment to eliminate the pension debt.
In response to the blown deadline and to teach those dawdling pension nonreformers a lesson, Quinn on Wednesday decided to use his line-item veto power to remove the salaries of Illinois lawmakers from the state budget until they act on meaningful reform. In “Romper Room” terms, he sent them to their rooms without supper and cut their allowances.
While we agree with Sen-ate President John Cullerton’s assessment of Quinn’s move as “unproductive,” it also aptly describes the General Assembly’s efforts to resolve the pension crisis. And in that, Cullerton and his fellow Chicago Democrat, House Speaker Michael Madigan, are as culpable as the governor in failing to show the leadership necessary to resolve the situation.
This editorial first appeared in Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.