Saturday, June 1, 2013

And we seriously wonder why Illinois’ Legislature can’t get anything done?

Would you wear this?
Who’s lazier?

A Puerto Rico resident eating a Whopper at Burger King. Or a member of the Illinois General Assembly when it comes to pension funding reform.

AS RIDICULOUS AS it is that Burger King marked its 50th anniversary of existence in the Caribbean island commonwealth by handing out 50 special devices that allow someone to eat a Whopper without having to touch it with their own hands or lift it to their own mouths, I’d have to argue that our very own Legislature is more embarrassing!

In fact, a part of me wonders if our legislators ought to have those burger-holders to keep their mouths otherwise occupied. Otherwise, they concoct, and spew forth, with ideas such as the way that the General Assembly contemplated to get out of having to make a decision on the problem of providing adequate pension funding.

Earlier this week, the state Senate did the political equivalent of sticking a shiv in the back of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. They rejected a bill that contained his preference for a pension funding bill.

Of course, there’s still the alternative preferred by their leader, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. That’s the one the unions like because it doesn’t require as much of a sacrifice, but also doesn’t provide as much relief and has some thinking it is totally inadequate.

THAT IS WHAT inspired state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, to say that the General Assembly ought to pass Cullerton’s preference, AND resurrect the Madigan measure.

NEKRITZ: Willing to let courts decide
Pass them both. Then create a situation where the courts (the same ones that issued the ruling that put Illinois in a position of having to consider “concealed carry” by June 9) make the final decision.

Talk about being lazy. Even moreso than thinking it an ordeal to lift a hamburger to one’s own mouth. If THAT was the alternative, then we're better off that the General Assembly did nothing before adjourning for the summer.

Because the whole point of having legislators is for them to make the tough decisions about the crucial issues confronting our society. The courts are meant to be the check-and-balance that prevents legislators and the governor from going too far.

THEY’RE NOT MEANT to be the governing body, in and of themselves!

Illinois' high court not the people we want creating our laws
It makes me think that Moody’s Investors Service – which on Friday said Illinois’ credit rating WILL drop if nothing was done by the Legislature on pension funding reform – ought to ding our lawmakers just for being generally lazy. Perhaps Gov. Pat Quinn will provide that "ding" when he meets with the Legislature's leaders next week to discuss this very issue?

Besides, I suspect if the courts do have to resolve this situation, we’re going to wind up with an outcome that everybody will truly despise. Just like nobody was happy about the “concealed carry” measure about the bill that finally got both state Senate and Illinois House approval on Friday.

There’s also the fact that the parliamentary maneuvering that would have to take place for such a dual-approval to occur would become so complex, and that it would take so long for the courts to resolve the issue that it might extend beyond our current Legislature’s life.

THERE’S JUST TOO much that can go wrong. Our legislators need to take action for themselves. Not rely on someone else to do their work for them.

Of course, what lets legislators think they can even get away with this is the fact that so much of the public attention on Friday was focused on a completely different issue – legal marriage for gay couples.

While I’m writing this very commentary, I’m also watching the Blue Room Stream website that allows people to watch the Legislature (in my case, the Illinois House) live. It also has a running commentary from viewers who want to express their thoughts in real-time.

And the comments I’m reading are overwhelmingly from people who want these legislators to just Shut up, already, and get on (both for, and against) with gay marriage!!!

Offending people, no matter what they do. Our Illinois House in action
MAYBE NEKRITZ THOUGHT she and her legislative colleagues could get away with a political punt on the pension funding issue because everybody else would be distracted by gay marriage (which never did happen, but will resurrect itself when the Legislature returns to session come November) and concealed carry and maybe even gambling expansion (another ultimate non-issue) and that moment of silence legislators did for the deceased firefighters in Houston?

And then, political people wonder why the public is less-than-trusting of their professional abilities – thinking of them as a bigger joke than someone from Puerto Rico actually using one of those ridiculous hands-free Whopper holders!


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