Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is telling lawmakers to prepare themselves to return to Springfield the week of Dec. 3 for a “likely” vote on pension reform.
If we’re to give all involved the benefit of the doubt, this must mean legislative leaders are close to consensus on at long last confronting the worst public pension crisis in America, and that even they realize they can’t dodge this forever.
Then again – and loath though we are to show our cynical side – Dec. 3 is the day after the filing deadline for the 2014 elections, which means legislators may be free to vote on this controversial issue without getting a primary challenge because of it.
Whatever, the sooner the vote, the better, for all involved.
The lawmakers themselves don’t want this pension issue – either their inaction on it or their offending action – hanging over their heads any closer to an election, fresh in voters’ minds, than they have to.
December may provide just enough distance from the November 2014 general.
For public employees most directly affected by the vote, the sooner they get it and, assuming it passes, the sooner their unions or other interest groups can file their lawsuits – probably the day Gov. Pat Quinn signs the legislation into law – and the sooner the courts can decide their fate.
Certainty smooths the path to making important life and career decisions.
For taxpayers, much the same is true, as the sooner they know the outcome, the sooner they can determine whether Illinois is still an affordable place for them and their families.
We wouldn’t characterize a December pension reform bill as a Christmas present, but it beats dropping a big egg next Easter.
The Peoria Journal Star