On Tuesday, as their lame-duck session became their dead-duck session, the Illinois General Assembly made it official: House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their Democratic majorities want you to know they simply are not capable of agreeing on any law that would begin to fix their terrible pension debacle. Nor do Gov. Pat Quinn, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno or House Minority Leader Tom Cross have the means to compel them.
So as the state’s unfunded pension liability of $96.8 billion rises by some $17.1 million a day, Tuesday’s $17.1 million was especially exasperating. Exasperating, that is, for everyone but Squeezy the Pension Python, the mythical creature Quinn’s office begat in order to illustrate how pension costs are squeezing the lifeblood out of state government’s other missions.
Tuesday was the last in a series of days when lawmakers of both parties could have bucked the public employees unions that dictate so much of state government’s policy and spending decisions.
Instead, this week’s feckless, frightened conduct in Springfield reached new lows for a Legislature that for years has denied any urgent need for pension reform. Once again, the cowards surrendered, afraid of their shadows. They left every citizen of the state to witness how easy it is for them to keep ignoring that $17.1 million per day.