Gov. Pat Quinn
Updated: July 7, 2013 12:45PM
There’s nothing like Springfield in late June or early July.
Hot, sticky and uncomfortable.
Sounds about right for our state lawmakers, a recalcitrant bunch in need of some serious sweat therapy.
By the end of a special session this summer, lawmakers should deliver nothing less than a comprehensive solution to the state’s suffocating pension problem.
Gov. Pat Quinn should choose a date immediately. That would give members of the General Assembly — most notably House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton — plenty of time to negotiate a deal that will unlock the shameful stalemate that produced absolutely nothing last Friday, the final day of the spring legislative session. The ugly glare of Springfield, not a restful vacation, is just what legislators need.
We hear the insiders carping already. It’s a waste to schedule a session unless a deal is at hand. And even if there is a deal, the specter of the 2014 election will likely stop all progress before one vote is even cast.
We see it. But here’s another scenario to consider: Illinois is no longer at the brink of collapse, it is actually going over the edge. Fitch Ratings downgraded Illinois’ credit rating yet again on Monday, reaffirming its status as the worst among all states.
We know the prospects look dim: Quinn summoned Madigan and Cullerton for a meeting on Tuesday. Madigan wasn’t available, and wouldn’t even offer a date he might be. Conspiracy theorists say Madigan will deny Quinn a pensions victory to pave the way for his daughter Lisa Madigan to win the Democratic primary for governor. Outrageous, you say Mr. Madigan? Prove them wrong.
Others say Madigan is pouting because Cullerton refused to go along with the pension cost-cutting bill he favored. We stood with Madigan on this — only his bill generated sufficient savings — and wish Cullerton had caved. But standing firm on principle and pouting are not the same.
Cullerton’s office tells us he is willing to look for ways in his pension cost-cutting bill to generate more savings. If he comes close to Madigan’s savings, that’s an excellent place to begin.
What must be done for Illinois is not impossible. It requires a little courage and a lot of sweat.