With the mercury consistently flirting with 100 degrees up and down the state, we know it's danged hot out there.|
It's tough to think of doing any really hard work in such oppressive heat. But legislative leaders in Springfield had best beware: Things could get even hotter when voters go to the polls in November if the General Assembly doesn't get to work resolving Illinois' public pension crisis.
Promises of the spring that a resolution would soon be found to the $85 billion and counting pensions crisis are evaporating along with the moisture in Illinois rain-starved fields. A drought of ideas and of courage on the part of state leaders threatens to destroy any chance of fixing this mess. Every day we ignore it, it grows worse.
Against that back drop, Gov. Pat Quinn is reportedly kinda, sorta, maybe is considering calling legislative leaders back to Springfield next month to get back to work on the single biggest issue facing Illinois.
"I think we have studied the issue in June and July, and at the end of this month, the time for study is complete," The Chicago Tribune quoted the governor as saying. "And now it'll be time for action. I don't think any legislators should plan to not be around in the month of August."
Well, good, we think. But why not simply take the lead, set a date and demand that they leave the pleasures of summer behind and get back to work.
So long as they insist on acting like children, lawmakers should be treated no differently than kids who don't finish their work during the regular school year. Send them to summer school.
"We cannot have public pensions drowning out, squeezing out, the money we need for public safety, the money we need for our schools and our children, the money we need for our health care," Gov. Quinn reportedly said. "This is a fire bell in the night, and I don't want our legislators or anyone else to think that we're just going to drift through the summer and not do anything about it."
Talk, however, is cheap.
The time for action is now. It's not as though the governor lacks ammunition.
House Speaker Mike Madigan didn't hesitate last December to call his House members into a special session to vote on huge tax breaks for CME Group and Sears Holdings in Illinois.
The Chicago Democrats should show the same eagerness to provide a break via lowering pension costs to the millions of ordinary Illinois who make up the company for which he works: the State of Illinois.
Negotiations are reportedly stuck over whether to shift retirements costs for suburban and downstate schools to local governments. But leaders can't unstick them the safety of their lake house or the local parade circuit.
Return to finish the job or voters might just tell you: Since you can't stand the heat, get out of our kitchen.
Silvis, IL Details
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