Tuesday, April 8, 2014

EXTRA: What a diff’rence a day makes! Pension problem up to Quinn

I’ve always been a believer that political people should vote their conscience – and NOT worry too much about the hostility they will encounter from the electorate.

QUINN: Upsetting people, no matter what!
Because there will always be a segment of society that will be opposed, no matter what the public official does. He (or she) will lose every time, if they’re obsessed with doing what they think the public wants them to do.

AND THE REALITY is that doing what one thinks is right always has the potential to come back and bite one in the buttocks come the next Election Day.

I’m thinking that thought as I wonder what Gov. Pat Quinn is going to do, now that the General Assembly has given its approval to a measure that is meant to give the City Council the authority to resolve the pension-funding problems confronting municipal government.

Last week, the issue came up. The General Assembly wasn’t able to figure out how to resolve the issue. So they held off and did nothing.

Quinn felt empowered enough by that stall to say on Monday how much he despised the plan – which called for the Legislature taking a vote that called for property tax increases in coming years to help raise the money needed to fully pay for the pension benefits.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL would despise Quinn for saying that. But those two rarely get along. It would not be the first time the governor offended the modern-day Hizzoner with the presumption that he had the authority to say, “No.”

Because who knew how long it would take the Illinois Legislature to get its act together and do anything? It might take them as long to do anything as it took (several years) to try to resolve state pension funding problems.

Except ...

EMANUEL: Latest chapter in Rahm/Pat feud?
That only one day after Quinn made his Proclamation of Death to what was being described as Emanuel's pension plan, the General Assembly went ahead and got the nerve to take a vote in favor of bill passage. First, the Illinois House of Representatives. Then, the state Senate.

ADMITTEDLY, IT’S NOT the exact same measure. It was altered slightly, so that it ultimately will be the City Council that has to decide whether there will be property tax increases in Chicago.

It sort of lets the legislators off the hook, in terms of being blamed for the resulting tax increases. Although if Quinn winds up signing it into law, you just know he’s going to be the one who gets blamed for letting this happen. Along with keeping a state income tax increase in place after this year, that’s quite a big build-up.

But if Quinn vetoes the measure, he’s going to get the blame for being the obstructionist who kept pension problems in place for Chicago government.

Although he’d get the support of the Chicago Teachers Union, which couldn’t even wait for the state Senate to cast its vote of approval before issuing a statement Tuesday saying they want Quinn to Veto!!!! the bill when it gets to him.

NOW I’M NOT about to predict how this issue will be resolved. I don’t know what Quinn ultimately will do.

He may have to go along with something he hates. Because the reality is that there is NO perfect solution to a problem that is decades in the making – and which I’m sure the Legislature wishes they could postpone, if at all possible.

No matter how much people will complain about what winds up happening with this issue, the one thing we all ought to agree on is that inaction is the one thing that causes problems for all.


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