When lawmakers fled Springfield on May 31 without fixing the state's pension crisis, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would bring them back "as soon as possible" to vote on a solution.
One week. Two weeks. Three weeks. Four weeks and counting.
The leaders are no closer to a pension fix. And the lawmakers? Do you hear them screaming for a vote?
Boy, though. They've been busy.
Senate Democrats zipped to Villa Park for drinks with Tom Cullerton, popped by a reception for Napoleon Harris hosted by Senate President John Cullerton, and sipped martinis at Tavern at The Park with Michael Hastings. They're candidates on the November ballot.
The Dems lined up their putts at golf outings for senators Terry Link, John Sullivan and Toi Hutchinson. And they joined Sen. Kwame Raoul for a fundraiser that included live music and drinks in Hyde Park.
State Rep. John D'Amicohosted an Italian-themed soiree in Chicago while Rep. Elizabeth "Lisa" Hernandez scheduled a July birthday fundraiser with an open bar. Republican Sen. Carole Pankau collected checks at her annual "Chip-in Fore Carole" golf outing. Get it? Such a cute play on words, we can't stand it! Sorry to miss it!
All that partying. Working in the General Assembly must be exhausting.
Rank-and-file lawmakers will tell you they're frustrated that their bosses — House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and Republican leaders Tom Cross and Christine Radogno — haven't figured out how to save the state from its pension disaster. The leaders met twice with Quinn in June, but no deal is in sight.
Until the leaders have a deal, lawmakers will tell you, there's no point heading back to Springfield. They're powerless.
Back to the links. Back to the parties. Back to raising money.
Hey folks, put your drivers back in the bag long enough to scream for a pension fix. Pressure the leaders. Where is your outrage?
Illinois has the worst record in the nation on public pensions. As we discuss in the other editorial on this page, the state is about to be forced to acknowledge that the problem is far deeper than the $83 billion in pension underfunding that the pols have acknowledged. A stack of $9 billion in unpaid bills continues to cycle through the comptroller's office. Add the unfunded pension and health care liabilities of local governments, as compiled by the Illinois Policy Institute, and Illinois taxpayers' collective debt stands at more than $200 billion.
Lawmakers, where are you? Golfing. Eating. Drinking. Hauling in money for the fall campaign.
What are you going to campaign on? That you failed again to save this state from financial ruin?
If you see a few legislators — try the first tee — remind them they should be in ZIP code 62706. Show them a map. Perhaps they've forgotten the route to Springfield. They sure seem to have forgotten the mess they left behind.
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