Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 19 likely much about nothing

When the Illinois General Assembly returns to action on June 19 (on the orders of Gov. Pat Quinn), I don’t expect much of anything to be accomplished toward resolving the problem over how to adequately fund the pension programs that state government oversees.

QUINN: Waving fist in air, but do we care?
In fact, about the only thing that will happen is that our political people will find ways to blame each other for the lack of activity that day – and any other days they happen to be stuck in Springfield in special session.

THE FACT IS that Quinn issued the order this week to get the legislators back at the Statehouse. But he doesn’t have a clue what will be done differently that will actually get legislative approval on a reform measure that he could actually sign into law.

Of course, there’s the fact that our legislative leaders are stuck on their own ideas of what needs to be done, and nobody seems willing to budget.

Particularly stuck on himself is Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. Perhaps what he needs is for someone to smack him about a bit to get him to think the issue through more in terms of the good of the people – rather than the good of what ensures he keeps a veto-proof majority in the Illinois House come the 2014 election cycle.

But if Quinn starts getting too tough, Madigan will have no qualms about ignoring the governor. And he’ll probably get away with it – considering how low the approval ratings have been for Quinn in recent months.

PEOPLE MAY BE disgusted with government all the way around. But the chief executive usually gets hit with the blame, even if it’s not really fair. That’s the price they pay for the praise they receive on those occasions when government officials get something right!

MADIGAN: No reason to back down
I bring this up because of the bickering that has taken place this week concerning the pension funding reform issue – which the General Assembly was unable to resolve when they were in action last week.

Because we’re now in the summer months, legislative rules requiring larger majorities for approval (60 percent, rather than a simple majority) apply. There’s going to have to be near-unanimous approval amongst Democrats for anything to pass.

Either that, or legitimate bipartisan cooperation. Personally, I think it’s more realistic to expect Democrats (who can’t agree on anything) to come to agreement. Which means we’re probably doomed to having no resolution of this issue for some time to come, even though Quinn said Friday he had a "pleasant" conversation with Madigan earlier in the day, and the two are scheduled to meet on Monday to talk this issue out.

TRY AGAIN IN the spring of 2014; which means even more time will have passed since we started hearing the rhetoric three years ago that this was a crucial issue whose deadline had finally arrived.

That’s probably the reason legislators don’t take it seriously. How many times can they be told time’s up, only to find that the issue is still pending, before they start thinking in their usual mindset.

Which is that they can get around to resolving this whenever they darned well feel like it!

Madigan-bashers are going out of their way to try to claim that the Illinois House speaker is being irresponsible for not partaking in the meeting held earlier this week with Quinn (and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago) to try to talk about this issue.

ALTHOUGH I CAN see Madigan’s point. Why waste time in talks if no one has a serious clue about how to compromise. It truly would be a waste of everybody’s time.

Reading the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield on Friday, a legitimate point was made. Even if you want to think Madigan is being hard-headed, thus far only one legislator is being critical of him.

MARTWICK: On his own, for now
And Rep. Rob Martwick, D-Norridge, a freshman legislator, is way too low-ranking for anyone to care what he thinks. Unless Madigan starts hearing pressure from the bulk of his own Illinois House caucus to act differently (Martwick wants Madigan to back Cullerton), he’s going to think he can get away with standing pat behind his proposal that is loved by the Chicago Tribune – but which many state employees and their unions think asks too much of them in the way of sacrifice.

Then again, nobody’s willing to sacrifice.

WHICH IS WHY come June 19, I’ll be paying more attention to the Cook County Board (whose president, Toni Preckwinkle, will make it official on Tuesday that she’s seeking re-election, rather than some other government post).

Not that the county board – which meets that same date – doesn’t know how to spew nonsense-talk.

But that’s all I expect to get from the Legislature. Which means we all lose out!


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