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Our View: Legislature takes easy path, avoids pension fix

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Lawmakers on Tuesday blew past at least the sixth deadline Gov. Pat Quinn has set for them regarding having a solid plan for pension reform.

Rather than making progress on pension reform, lawmakers occupied themselves with overriding Quinn’s veto of the bill they had sent him making it legal for residents to carry concealed weapons.

That they did so wasn’t much of a shock. Quinn’s veto of the legislation was derided in many quarters by lawmakers, and overriding the veto to conform with a federal court deadline was an easier problem to tackle than the difficult issue of how to solve the state’s almost $100 billion in unfunded pension obligations.

Nobody in Springfield has acted urgently enough to fix that issue, which affects every aspect of Illinois’ financial sustainability. The people whom voters in Illinois have elected to office should be ashamed of how far they’ve allowed this situation to spiral out of control.

But the bulk of the blame for Illinois not having a pension-reform solution when the sun set Tuesday falls squarely on Quinn.

Quinn is not a leader. He’s demonstrated that throughout this process. He holds no influence with lawmakers in Springfield, and that makes leading and getting things done incredibly hard.

Quinn, publicly, has not provided any specifics on what his vision of pension reform looks like. The furthest he’s gone in that regard is expressing his preference for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan over the dueling plan of Senate President John Cullerton.

Quinn had the opportunity to provide specifics to the bipartisan committee recently formed to tackle pension reform. Committee members invited him to speak at Monday’s meeting. Quinn declined.

That’s par for the course. If Quinn were a leader, he’d be at every one of these committee meetings. He’d call out lawmakers who have been obstacles. He’d publicly campaign for specific solutions.

“It’s a bit irresponsible to arbitrarily select a day when you’re not the one who has to sit there and crunch the numbers. You’re not the one showing any leadership,” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Democrat who leads the pension-reform committee.

Voters elected Quinn to lead this state. Leaders get involved, work to find solutions, hold people accountable and get results. We’re still waiting for Quinn to do what we need him to do.

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