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Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 20, 2013

* Gov. Pat Quinn has set yet another hard deadline for pension reform action

“I was encouraged by the fact that [House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton] agreed to have a conference committee,” said Quinn, who met with legislative leaders Wednesday morning.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the members of the Legislature understand that this is not going away. If on the 9th of July they haven’t done their job, they’re really letting the people of Illinois down.”

It’s a tall order, considering members of the 10-member, bipartisan committee will be starting fresh on a compromise never reached during the Legislature’s regular session that ended with Madigan’s savings-focused plan being trounced in the Senate and his refusal to call Cullerton’s rival, union-backed plan.

Let’s see… the end of January’s lame duck session was a hard deadline. The end of spring session was probably also a hard deadline for Quinn. Maybe even before spring break. It’s just too nice of a day today to bother looking up the links.

Anyway, back to the coverage.

* The conferees

Legislative leaders named the members to the committee. For the most part, the appointees reflect the views of those who appointed them. House Speaker Michael Madigan named Chicago Rep. Arthur Turner, Riverside Rep. Michael Zalewski and Northbrook Democrat Elaine Nekritz, who has been a key player in pension talks thus far. “I think it has the potential to be different because we’re just in a different position than we’ve been in throughout this long journey, this arduous journey,” Nekritz said. “We’re a lot further down the road than we have been in the past, and I think that there is a … desire to come together to get a compromise. I can say that from the House’s perspective, and I believe that to be true of the Senate, as well.” House Minority Leader Tom Cross tapped Naperville Rep. Darlene Senger and Quincy Rep. Jil Tracy.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno chose Palatine Sen. Matt Murphy and Bloomington Sen. Bill Brady. Senate President John Cullerton appointed Evanston Sen. Daniel Biss, Chicago Sen. Kwame Raoul and Aurora Sen. Linda Holmes. Biss, who sponsored Senate Bill 1, is the only choice that stands out as not sharing similar views on the issue as the leader who appointed him.

However, Biss acknowledged today that compromise is needed, calling SB 1 “dead” and “gone.” “I think everything has to be on the table. I think we need to walk into this with the openness and flexibility that comes with not having bright red lines and not having nonstarters,” Biss said. [Emphasis added.]

Hopefully, the train is finally starting to move faster than one mile a year.

* More optimism

Cullerton, who had been at loggerheads with Madigan over competing pension proposals, gave a backhanded compliment to the speaker — a longtime friend and colleague — for agreeing to form the conference committee after initially dismissing it out of hand on Friday.

“Now we have a conference committee that the speaker’s agreed to do rather than just insist that we keep on voting on his bill, and that’s a very positive step,” Cullerton said, adding that the process opens the door to “new ideas.”

* Even MJM was sounding optimistic notes

In an exclusive interview in his expansive Springfield office, House Speaker Michael Madigan also seemed to indicate that this might be the time for compromise.

“We both resolve that there must be a bill. That is a significant first step. Having done that, now we move to where the compromises will occur, what kind of concessions can be taken from each side,” said Madigan.

* I asked Jay Levine at CBS2 to post the full interview with Madigan. He did. Many thanks. Have a look

* But not everyone was joyful

“The initial reaction [in the legislature] when Quinn suggested it was kind of eye-roll, ‘are-you-kidding’ sort of thing,” said Kent Redfield, an emeritus political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “But then, I think the reason it got done was that people looked at it and said, ‘If we do this, then it looks like we’re doing something. And we can present it as we came to town and we did something.’ It’s very symbolic. I think that it is basically a way to buy time and to play to the external audiences, which are editorial boards, average citizens and the bond [rating] houses.” Illinois’ credit rating was downgraded twice in the first week of June after lawmakers failed to pass pension changes in the regular session.

And

Cullerton says he thinks the committee is a step in the right direction, but will it be the final push needed to pass a comprehensive pension fix?

    CULLERTON: “No, not the fact that we have a conference committee. That was the governor’s request and just another way of getting to a vote for a bill.”

* It also takes about two weeks to do an actuarial analysis. So, if they want to vote on a bill and know what they’ll be getting, they’ll need to wrap things up in less than a week. Doubtful, to say the least

Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, a conference committee member and the leading House Democrat on pension matters, cautioned that if any agreement is reached, it could take weeks to run the numbers on potential savings to the state.

“Part of reaching a compromise is knowing what (a proposal) does,” Nekritz said. “I would hesitate to go to (Madigan) and say, ‘This is the deal but I don’t really know what it saves, I have a guess.’ And I don’t want to go to the people of the state of Illinois and say that. So, it’ll take some time.”

* And here’s where we finally get to the question. From WBEZ

The pension crisis in Illinois is dire. Politicians routinely use strong language when they talk about it. Consider the following:

    “We all look like idiots.” - Rep. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie.

    “Finances in the state of Illinois are a train wreck.” - Dick Ingram of the Teachers Retirement System

    “It’s a catastrophic failure of leadership.” - Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont […]

All this talk has us wondering: Are there any adjectives left we can use to describe how bad this pension situation is that we aren’t already desensitized to? Any fear-inspiring idioms or cliches left out?

That’s where you come in. Fill out the Mad Lib-inspired form below to tell us how you’re feeling about the Illinois pension crisis. We’ll do a dramatic reading of some of your responses on-air.

* I touched up one of their Mad Libs for our purposes…

Without a compromise, I’m __(emotion)___ that Illinois will be worse off than a __(noun)__ in a __(location)__. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will __(verb)__.

* The Question: Fill in the blanks? And please, please, please keep it super-clean. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    bored / Cub fan / Busch Stadium / Rewind.


  2. - Property Owner - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m positive that Illinois will be worse off than a zebra in a cage filled with hungry lions at the zoo. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will vote against them all at the first possible opportunity.


  3. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m resigned that Illinois will be worse off than a banana in a monkey factory. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will not be surprised.


  4. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m afraid that Illinois will be worse off than a Turkey in Plymouth Rock. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will get back on the Mayflower.


  5. - rusty618 - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Will Nekritz be open to a solution that will pass the constitution muster? Maybe they can work on spending reform, too. After all, that’s what got us into this situation.


  6. - Irish - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    Without a compromise I am frackin resigned to the fact that Illinois will be worse off than a Squeezy in a room full of mongooses. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will not be surprised.


  7. - Irish - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 1:12 pm:

    Without a compromise I am worried that Illinois will be worse off than Oswego Willy at a Jason Plummer fundraiser. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th it will be the same circus same clowns.

    Without a compromise I am worried that Illinois will be worse off than a puppy at a Bill Brady owned animal shelter. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th it will be Quinnessentil Land of Lincoln.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 1:13 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m disgusted that Illinois will be worse off than a butterfly in a hurricane. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will wait for the 4th final hard deadline.


  9. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 1:18 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m FRICKN SCARED that Illinois will be worse off than a ONE LEGGED MAN in a BUTT KICKING CONTEST. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will BE FORCE TO UNVAIL SUPER SQUEEZY.


  10. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m terrified that Illinois will be worse off than Erica Harold at this year’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Litchfield. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will expect Quinn to extend the deadline.


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    C’mon, people. I know today’s is tough, but you can do it. Ten comments? More, please.


  12. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    I thought you were swinging the ban hammer Rich. Who doesn’t love Mad Libs?


  13. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m afraid that Illinois will be worse off than Pat Quinn in a Madigan Fundraiser. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will be pi##ed off.


  14. - Steve - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m terrified that Illinois will be worse off than a registered Republican in Chicago. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will expect Quinn to ask Moodys and Fitch if they want to bring their property tax business to Klafter and Burke.
    http://www.klafterandburke.com/


  15. - Small Town Taxpayer - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m exasperated that Illinois will be worse off than a chain smoker in a fireworks factory. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will back Squeezy the Pension Python to run for Governor of Illinois.


  16. - John A Logan - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m enraged that Illinois will be worse off than a televangelist in an IRS office. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will seek the counsel of Jimmy Swagert.


  17. - John A Logan - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m afraid that Illinois will be worse off than an Amish Electrician in a barber shop. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will donate to the William J. Kelly campaign fund.


  18. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m certain that Illinois will be worse off than a Pontiac Aztek at a classic car show. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8, I will sleep in on July 9.


  19. - Steve - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 2:49 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m terrified that Illinois will be worse off than a registered Republican in Chicago. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will expect Quinn to ask Moodys and Fitch if this whole thing can be solved at Tavern on Rush with Jimmy DeLeo , Culterton ,and Fred Barbara serving drinks to ask for Freddie Mace style ratings like in 2004 to make everyone feel good about public pensions with Chicago Public school math.


  20. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:05 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m doubtful that Illinois will be worse off than a state pensioner in the Tribune Editorial Board Room. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will continue to collect my check on the 19th of every month and my COLA on Jan. 1, 2014.


  21. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:17 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m not all that sure that Illinois will be worse off than a multimillionaire who made some of his money off of state pension investing, even though he hates state workers in a way that borders on maniacal behavior. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will expect another unreasonable deadline from governor Squeezy.


  22. - Century Club - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m resigned that Illinois will be worse off than Carlos Marmol in a save situation. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then wait ’til next year!


  23. - Century Club - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:29 pm:

    Without compromise, I’m terrified that Illinois will be worse off than Bill Daley at the Madigan Thanksgiving Dinner. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, I will start spouting conspiracy theories about how this helps Lisa Madigan when she runs for Governor.


  24. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m all verklempt that Illinois will be worse off than a Wisconsin Senator in an undisclosed Illinois Motel. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will move to Indiana. No kidding. I mean it. Not like the last 40 times I threatened to leave Illinois if I don’t get my way. And I’m gonna take my business, too. You’re gonna lose all those jobs and all that revenue. Then where will you be? I won’t care cause I’m gone. Forever.


  25. - Irish - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    Without a compromise I am more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs that Illinois will be worse off than Pat Quinn at a Saluki Homecoming dance. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th I will wait for the coming of the four horsemen, Shemp Quinn Moe, Larry, and Curly.


  26. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m madder than a wet hen that Illinois will be worse off than a Squeezy on a plane. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will wait another month.


  27. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:50 pm:

    Hey, why all the hate on Pontiac Azteks? We thought the car/crossover/light truck/family van/people mover/proto Honda N Box had all sorts of kitchy oddball allure. So ugly it’s cute, kinda. Futuristic, in a way. Really, show sum luvn.

    Signed, The Committee


  28. - Res Melius - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m Paranoid that Illinois will be worse off than a Bieber fan at a Black Sabbath concert. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will Bark at the Moon.


  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 3:55 pm:

    “Part of reaching a compromise is knowing what (a proposal) does,” Nekritz said. Sort of like breaking the law and being unconstitutional.
    I take exception to the fact that Madigan has loaded the committee with his cronies. If they have their way retired teachers will soon be standing in welfare and bread lines. And the state will still owe 100 billion.


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    Without a comprimise i just get Madigastic. We’ll be worse off than a Rauner in a likeability contest. If they don’t agree to a plan by July 9th i will carry a concealed bill daley into downstate counties.


  31. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    Above, that was meant to read, “mine in southern Illinois….”


  32. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    We’ll be worse off than a Rauner in a likeability contest

    I kinda like that one!


  33. - jake - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 5:14 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m terrified that Illinois will be worse off than a snake in a pit of squirrels. (If that baffles you, check out videos that come up from the Google “squirrel snake”. You will be surprised.). If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will lie on my lawn and let the squirrels nibble me to death.


  34. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 6:23 pm:

    dupage, there is no “kinda cute” there in those fright pigs. Sorry. There hasn’t been a Top 10 ugliest cars list made since the day that thing rolled out that it hasn’t topped the list.


  35. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 6:34 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m generally unconvinced that Illinois will be worse off than a banker in a Wall Street hedge fund hustle. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will expect CousinBrucey to make some more donations to pension asset decision makers and pretend like it is the little woman who gives the libs all the cash.


  36. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 9:12 pm:

    Taking a slight liberty with the starting language …

    Without a compromise, I fear Illinois will be worse off than a gun owner today in a Chicago.

    If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then we will be back to awaiting Michael’s return from the mountain carrying the stone slate of Pension Reform.


  37. - Curmudgeon - Friday, Jun 21, 13 @ 9:38 am:

    OK, political whiz kids: Who out there can tell us what unique, common, political attribute superstars Dan Biss and Elaine Nekritz both experienced earlier in their electoral careers?


  38. - dupage dan - Friday, Jun 21, 13 @ 9:41 am:

    AA - the committee has been surprised at the negative responses we have received over the years regarding the Pontiac Aztek platform. We had done extensive research into the design after having hired the PR firm of Edsel & Edsel, LLC. We had been led to believe that with their extensive automotive history and experience The Committee would be able to reach a consensus on a design that would please a broad spectrum of the car buying public. On the other hand………..


  39. - Sunshine - Friday, Jun 21, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Without a compromise, I’m certain that Illinois will be worse off than a raccoon in an outhouse. If lawmakers don’t agree on a plan by July 8th, then I will be buying more frozen snickers.

    I’m betting folks will just get stoned to forget about the pitiful mess we are in….and frozen snickers will be worth their weight in gold. Then again, the way the market is going, that might be true anyway?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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