Our view: New Legislature but same old story?
Herald-News editorial January 16, 2013 9:54PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:20PM
The state of Illinois’ financial problems are so deep, dangerous and critical that the lack of strong, progressive action by the Legislature to address them fundamentally imperils the state.
How do we know this? The Democratic Party through its leaders, principally Gov. Pat Quinn, tells us regularly how dire the situation is. And every bond rating system views the state as an increasingly irresponsible deadbeat, which means all of us pay more for the state to borrow money to keep its government running.
The 97th General Assembly has ended with a lame-duck session that accomplished little — ending two years of abject failure in resolving major issues such as a roughly $96 billion pension liability, a huge budget deficit, same-sex marriage, gun control and gambling expansion.
Now that the 98th General Assembly has been sworn in, how much improvement can we expect? We’d like to be optimistic but see little reason for it. Every time Quinn, to his credit, emphasized the pressing need for action, the Legislature lapsed into a deep sleep.
Two observations seem obvious. Quinn does not appear capable of leading thirsty horses to water, and the legislative leaders usually ignore him while not passing their solutions.
And now they’ll pay even less attention to Quinn because each chamber has a veto-proof Democratic majority that won’t need Quinn or Republicans to do whatever they want to.
The Democrats now own Springfield, but we wonder if the images of House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton as iron-willed political geniuses is a clichéd misunderstanding of mediocre people doing mediocre work.
The results suggest they don’t really believe there is an emergency in state finances. Or they don’t care.
Will the Democrats seize their historic opportunity and respond to the financial crisis and other major issues or will they continue to fumble and fail?
Somebody has to lead. Somebody has to follow. The Legislature does not seem capable of either right now.