Monday, December 02, 2013

Dan Proft: ILGOP Legislative Leaders in the Super-Minority and Loving It (Apparently)

Dear Bill,
This article is also available at

"The action is the juice." – Michael Cherrito, "Heat"
If you want to understand why Illinois Republicans are in the super-minority in the General Assembly despite the record amassed by Chicago Democrats in charge of state government, all you have to do is watch the behavior of the mislabeled House and Senate Republican legislative "leaders" on what has been purposely mislabeled, "pension reform."

Nearly two-decades of short-term fixes (perhaps, as someone once said, we need to "unfix an Illinois where the fix is in"…hmmm) to the state's pension systems—from Jim Edgar's ramp to nowhere to the Blagojevich/Quinn years of borrowing at payday loan prices—have done nothing but deepen Illinois' unfunded liabilities. Those short-term fixes have left Illinois ranked as the 3rd worst-managed state, according to 24/7 Wall Street's annual ranking, with the worst credit rating in the country.

Yet Republican legislative leaders remain unchastened. They are action junkies. According to their conduct, being the wheelman for Chicago Democrats' latest heist of Illinois taxpayers (and public sector pensioneers) is morally superior and politically preferable to not participating in the crime.

Rather than leveraging the crisis brought about by decades of cynical gamesmanship of state pension funds by House Speaker Mike Madigan, Republican legislative leaders are choosing to provide Illinois Taxpayer Enemy #1 and his dutiful caucus mates with the political cover they desire.

And for what?

A faint promise from the same people who engineered this crisis for back-end savings three decades from now that Republican legislative leaders admit cannot be guaranteed.

If past is prologue, who loses if the same liars continue lying?

Chicago business leader Ken Griffin, a man who built a multi-billion dollar empire by having a fairly good grasp of math, offered this prediction in a recent op-ed:

"Our state is going to be forced to break its promises to our government employees and retirees. They will receive less than they bargained for. Our state's taxpayers will see the 67 percent 'temporary' tax increase converted into a permanent tax increase. And soon we will hear that even further tax increases are needed to meet our obligations. This is the price we are all going to pay for sending the wrong leaders to Springfield for too many years."

I would like to see Senate Super-Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Super-Minority Leader Jim Durkin command majorities in their respective chambers. To borrow from an old Milton Friedman formulation, I am on their side. They are not.

They are on the wrong side of history today just as they were two-and-a-half years ago when Illinois Republican legislative leaders generated this blaring headline, "GOP rejects Wisconsin approach to unions." (Rockford Register Star, 4/4/11)

Sen. Radogno appeared on the WLS radio show I co-host in Chicago this morning defending her support for the Madigan pension deformation legislation wherein she said, "I didn't come (to Springfield) to play partisan games."

Clearly. And that post-partisan patter is precisely why Republicans are in the super-minority.

- Dan Proft

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