We do not often get second chances, but all of you in the General Assembly are about to be granted another test of your allegiance to the Illinois Constitution and your political fortitude to find real and honorable answers to the Illinois “pension crisis.”
Let’s be clear about one real truth. No matter how many of you are singled out and castigated by the Chicago Tribune for being hesitant or even thoughtful, the egregious falsehood perpetrated by the corporate media – even without Koch brother ownership – is the following: a characterization that budget woes in Illinois are a result of “diverting money from education and health care and other essential services to preserve pension benefits that are crushing the state” (Tribune Editorial June 16, 2013).
That’s an untruth, Representative and Senator. You know it and I know it.
Having to pay down a $100 billion debt on past avoidance (not diversion) of making required pension payments is actually what’s financially crushing the State of Illinois. In fact the normal costs of pension payments have remained quite static or, as in last year, even less.
The Tribune editorial board and Bruce Dold, always a willing messenger for the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, have enacted this falsity in order to avoid the very real financial remedies available to any state, but not one like ours - subjected to the onerous dictatorship of a single politician like Speaker Madigan.
Notice how the Tribune always combines the debt payment and the normal costs to make its specious points? By not separating the two, the normal person does not realize a re-amortization of the debt owed for stealing pension moneys could be paid off without the crazy and punitive climbing cost developed by the General Assembly (with help for the corporates) in 1995. Why isn’t Madigan or someone promoting that possibility?
And if you think that Speaker Madigan is about to allow you as an elected official to think independently about what is possibly unconstitutional, or what is immoral, what is financially possible or ameliorative, think again. He has eviscerated the union backed bill SB2404 to hold over the head of Senate Leader Cullerton – a childish and twisted parody of Solomon. Extreme power without wisdom.
Will the Representatives in the House scurry under the domination of the Speaker and vote “aye” on his new machination? Will my own Representative fall into line as she did so easily with SB1? I hope not. I hope that she and others realize that another forced vote on a mutant original bill is a slap in the face of not only thoughtful colleagues in the Senate, but a derisive and cynical demonstration of just how little the Speaker thinks of their offices – in both houses.
Will the Senate also allow SB1 reviving life and fall into line with the leader's dark vision in the other house?
I wish you well, and I wish you the strength to look for better answers to the financial hole Illinois politicians (not public workers) have excavated for nearly eighty years.