The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


June 9, 2013

Priorities out of order

DANVILLE — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced last week he planned to call the General Assembly into special session June 19 to resolve the state’s ever-growing pension fund crisis. The shortfall exceeds an estimated $90 billion.

After two years of a lot of talk and not much action, it appears lawmakers might actually fashion some sort of remedy to this problem of their own creation.

Legislators promised these pension benefits to public employees years ago, then failed to hold up their end of the deal by not allocating enough money to cover the cost.

The solution likely will result in less benefits for those who receive state pensions. It would be a good move for lawmakers to access their own pensions even more to at least offer a token apology for their mismanagement.

Lawmakers did manage to pass a budget for the next fiscal year that did not include more cuts for Illinois schools. That’s a major accomplishment.

Local school districts face financial hardships, especially in their transportation funds, because lawmakers cut the funding.

At the same time, however, other state spending that would seem to of a lower priority went ahead. One example is a $12 million estimated remodeling of the Illinois Supreme court Building just under way. The full court will move to Chicago to hear cases during the work.

The building probably does need work, but when Illinois can’t pay its bills and is cutting school funding, did that $12 million really have to go to the remodeling project?

Good management is about meeting the most important priorities with the resources available. Whether it’s pension funding, education or spreading state money around for political gain, it’s easy to see the General Assembly’s priorities are much different than the public’s.

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