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When lawmakers sue to get paid for not doing their jobs

Updated: September 1, 2013 6:29AM

We understand why the state’s top legislative leaders filed suit Tuesday to get paid for a job they haven’t done.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to withhold all legislators’ salaries until they reduce pension costs might truly be an unconstitutional threat to “the independence of each branch of government,” as Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan contend.

We just don’t care.

Quinn’s excellent intent is to shame the Legislature into doing its job.

“In this case,” Cullerton and Madigan warn, “the governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control or education reform. The possibilities are endless.”

Then again, anything that grabs the public’s attention about this pension mess and cranks up the outrage is OK by us.

A handful of legislators are hard at work on the problem. “Living the dream,” was how Rep. Elaine Nekritz jokingly put it during a day-long pension hearing last month. But the great majority of legislators remains unwilling to make the difficult decisions needed to reduce pension costs.

If it takes withholding their pay to bring them around, so be it.

We don’t know if the governor’s stunt amounts to a constitutional crisis, as Cullerton and Madigan claim.

We do know that Illinois faces a financial crisis .

And the only way out is for every legislator to do his or her job.

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