Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gamesmanship trumps policy, yet again – our Illinois legislators at work

It shouldn’t be surprising that government officials would be the types who could appreciate the strategy and tactics of creating new laws.

I don’t doubt that for some of them, that aspect probably trumps the end result – the law itself. They’re more interested in the process of “getting there” (ie., creating a new law) than in the actual public policy.

WHICH IS WHAT I’m sure many people find frustrating. They want to regard the process as just some legalese that must be endured to get some act of public policy that could benefit the public.

What do you do when the “legalese” is what matters?

That attitude became blatantly clear (for those who didn’t already realize it) when the Illinois General Assembly completed (sort of) its legislative session for the spring months.

The Legislature, at some point this summer, is going to have to return for a few days to try to resolve the problems that face public pension programs. There’s still a ridiculous shortfall that needs to be dealt with now – unless we’re willing to be bankrupted, of sorts, by the issue a couple of decades from now.

THEN, THERE’S THE issue of new casinos across Illinois. This matter truly is playing out to script. Everybody is acting in ways that they know will infuriate somebody else – and there’s no regard for trying to figure out how to get around differences so that we might actually get the casino.

The General Assembly went ahead and passed (for the second straight year) a measure that would let Chicago have a full-fledged casino, and would also allow for casino boats (which aren’t really boats anymore, but that’s a commentary for a different day) in Park City (near Gurnee), somewhere in the south suburbs, along with Rockford and Danville.
QUINN: How stubborn is he?

Unlike last year, there’s no gamesmanship at work to prevent sending the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn so that he can’t veto it.

Yet everybody is convinced that  a “veto” will be the end result. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer both have come out and said they expect Quinn to reject the measure.

THE DANVILLE MAYOR says he’s putting his faith in the General Assembly being able to override Quinn’s opposition, while Cullerton says there will be another legislative attempt to pass the bill after Quinn uses his veto power to reject the idea.

Which means the whole casino expansion issue has become one of political tactics at work. Keep hitting Quinn, and eventually you’ll be able to wear him down so that he won’t be able to oppose the idea any longer.

Except that Quinn has something of a stubborn streak in him when he thinks he’s being provoked. Which makes me wonder if the casino proponents are hoping to keep pushing this issue until the day comes that we have a new governor (next election cycle for that office is 2014).

Nobody’s trying to figure out if there’s a casino expansion plan that could actually gain support all the way around so that it could actually become law.

IT’S ONE-UPMANSHIP ALL the way around. Including when it comes to pension reform.

I have to admit to being surprised by the outcome of this issue. I thought for sure the Legislature would pass something, anything, that they would claim was a solution to the problem

My guess was that the bill wouldn’t actually do anything of substance, yet would do just enough that the legislators would be able to go home, say they did something this year, and have the issue go away for awhile until some future date when they would then again be confronted with it.

But what really happened was that this issue devolved into a partisan squabble. Everybody seemed determined to want to have the other side take the blame for the problem taking place, and to get sole credit for resolving it.

NOBODY WANTED TO have to admit that the other side needed to get some credit, and that any real solution was going to involve having people work together.

It was politics, over all!!!

The gamesmanship got so high that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who usually is the source of the partisan political tactics, wound up dropping his support off of what was supposed to be the solution – resulting in nothing getting done.

And the likelihood that our state Legislature will have to spend some time in Springfield to approve a pension solution – once Quinn and the leaders come up with something for the lawmakers to be voted on.

WHICH MAY ACTUALLY be the ultimate punishment for those pols.

It’s “capital punishment” – which in the Illinois political geek glossary is defined as having to spend a weekend or summer day, or any amount of time longer than absolutely necessary in the capital city!


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