* The SJ-R’s editorial today notes that the importance of Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address today will pale in comparison to another speech it hopes one day to hear…
That’s because the most important institution when crafting the budget is the legislature. And the most important legislator when it comes to crafting this budget and budgets in the decades to come is House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago.
Madigan’s role is more outsized this year than usual because he is the only member of the “five tops” (Statehouse nomenclature for the governor and the four legislative leaders) who has not made his position on pension restructuring known. […]
Yes, in the bizarre interpersonal relations Madigan maintains with his counterparts, even they don’t really know what he’s thinking or wants to do. […]
Better yet, Madigan could lead. He finally could say what he’s for and use his vaunted political skills to pass it. Everyone knows Madigan’s No. 1 priority — forever and always — is to keep the Democrats in the majority in the Illinois House so he can remain speaker. But what’s the point if you don’t try to solve the state’s biggest problem? Is being in Springfield during the winter and chowing down at Saputo’s really that much fun?
Yes, Gov. Pat Quinn will give a speech today. But the most important speech is the one Madigan has yet to give.
Not always, but usually Madigan tends to lead from behind. He makes sure not to take positions that his caucus won’t agree to. And that can be supremely frustrating with a difficult issue like pension reform. He refuses to tip his hand because he has yet to figure out where his members actually stand. So, we’re stuck with this game for several more months.
* More pension proposals create less consensus