The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 7, 2013

Quinn misses opportunity to offer solutions

Associated Press

DANVILLE — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn presented his annual State of the State address Wednesday. The speech give the governor a clear playing field to lay out what problems he sees and how he intends to remedy them.

Listeners heard about plenty of problems. The solutions? Not so much.

The biggest problem facing the state today is its sad state of finances. Billions of dollars in late bills, unfulfilled payments promised to schools and others, and a growing obligation in its pension funds cast a big shadow over Illinois.

The problems can be traced to members of the General Assembly making big promises — especially when it comes to pensions — but failing to hold up their end of the deal financially. Instead of setting aside money to pay pensions in the future, the politicians in Springfield spent the cash on other things.

So Wednesday’s speech was Quinn’s opportunity to lay out a clear, pragmatic plan to reverse the state’s fiscal fortunes.

Quinn at least acknowledge the pension funding problem was the state’s “toughest of issues,” which he said was costing Illinois $17 million per day.

So, how does the governor want to fix the problem? He didn’t say.

He noted a bill in the Legislature could be used if necessary, but he offered no new proposals. In effect, he tossed the problem right back into the hands of the people who created it. That should work well.

“We must simply act,” he said. Few would disagree. But how?

Money doesn’t appear to be the only thing Illinois lacks these days. It could use a healthy dose of leadership as well.