Read what I have enlarged on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times today:
The emphasized part of the front page says,
“Madigan rips ‘lack of leadership'”
But the media has steadfastly ignored the role that House Speaker Mike Madigan has played in putting the pension systems into a sinkhole so large it is now obvious to even Madigan, one of its chief diggers, that taxpayers cannot pour enough money to satisfy legislative obligations, while allowing Democrats to continue spending a billion or more each year.
I’ve packed a lot into that sentence, too much, I am sure.
But consider that Mike Madigan has been head of the Illinois House 38 out of the last 40 years.
Anyone want to guess when the pension busting legislation was enacted?
And, who might have decided to allow pension enhancement bills to be voted upon?
It certainly was not Senate President John Cullerton. At most, he was at Madigan’s leadership table giving “input.”
There is another garment of culpability that Madigan must wear.
When I was closely examining budgets, I noticed that each governor had an education section. It had three parts:
- kindergarten through 12th grade
- higher education
Unions have loudly carped that the Illinois General Assembly did not pay what its members should have for their pension system over the years.
They have a point there.
But it is a misleading one.
It was the union leaders who were urging Madigan and other legislators to put more money into State Aid to Education.
Want to guess where that “more money” came from?
Hey, you could be a legislator.
It came from the money governors requested for pension obligations.
From the unions point of view, it was a double win:
- There was more money for next year’s teachers’ salaries.
- Because the salaries were higher, pension benefits would be increased.
And yesterday Madigan blames former underling Cullerton for not mustering enough votes to pass “cover my rear end” pension legislation.
= = = = =
Most readers will probably know that I am a former State Representative.
I received a generous pension for which I regularly thank people. (Thanks!)
During my sixteen years in Springfield, I can count on very few fingers the number of pension bills I voted for. State Rep. Joe Ebbeson of DeKalb was the pension “scold” in the 1970’s. I can’t remember who took on that role in the 1990’s.
In any event, my viewpoint was that I might serve long enough to have to figure out how to pay for benefits being promised and concluded that a “No” vote was the appropriate on.
“When in doubt, vote ‘No'” is still pretty good advice for a legislator.
It won’t make you popular at the time, but in time too many “Yes” votes turn out to have been bad judgment.