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Behind the grandstanding

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Missed in all the hoopla over the lawsuit filed to stop Gov. Pat Quinn’s legislative salary veto was this report from WUIS’ Brian Mackey

The 10-members of the bipartisan conference committee have been meeting for more than a month. A good chunk of that time has been waiting for actuaries to analyze the various proposals — seeing how much of Illinois’ nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities might be eliminated.

“We sent a — hopefully — a final round of scoring back to the actuaries to come up with some solution,” says Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington.

He says there’s been “a great deal of compromise” among his fellow pension committee members.

“I’m hopeful that our work and effort will bring the conference committee to a consensus resolution, and then we can employ the legislative leaders to help us pass a bill,” he says.

So, they’ve been compromising and they may be on their final draft.

* And maybe the governor ought to be asked about this salient point at the Chicago presser he’s holding today to cut yet another ribbon…

Like other members of the committee, Brady says he hasn’t heard from Gov. Pat Quinn — or anyone on the governor’s staff — since Quinn vetoed lawmakers’ salaries as punishment for not passing pension legislation.

Quinn has not changed a single legislative mind on pension reform. They’re making progress despite his grandstanding, not because of him.


  1. - Stones - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:29 am:

    And whatever final document comes from the committee (assuming it passes through the legislature and is signed by the Governor) must pass muster with the Court. It should be an interesting ride the next few months.

  2. - Anon. - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:30 am:

    ==He says there’s been “a great deal of compromise” among his fellow pension committee members.==

    I feel so much better knowing that the wolves are resolving the issue of which sheep gets eaten first in a spirit of compromise rather than confrontation.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    The mere fact that Quinn is absent, and progress is being made without him explains WHY Quinn needs to grandstand, so Populist Pat Quinn can inject Governor Pat Quinn into the narrative, even at the cost of an Unconstitutional move and an attempt to redefine the seperation of powers and extortion.

    A “governor” would be working with the Conference Committee, working the levers, so when this rolls out, a sahre of the pats on the back, a share of the blame for the compromise, and a share of the “cover” needed for passage can ensure… jst that … passage of a Constitutional Pension Plan, passing muster on al levels, and allowing a claim of voctory for all ….ALL.

    That… is what a “governor” does.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:36 am:

    Quinn’s in full election mode. I’m sure he’s enjoying having the support of the sideshow barkers like the Tribbie edit board and Kass. Beats governing, but it’s way too early if you’re a serious governor.

  5. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:57 am:

    I know when I want an honest answer about Pat Quinn, my first source is Bill Brady.

  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Quinn has been a gadfly, and a very competent one at that, for the last 40+ years. He has honed those skills to virtually an art form. Kudos to him.

    But gadflying and governing require two radically different skill sets. Those who govern immerse themselves into negotiations and details as does any good manager. Those who become gadflies flit from issue to issue, touching down to tell us what should be done and then moving on to the next.

    We have learned over the years that gadflies cannot govern. Forgetting for a moment about the Tribune, why should any of us be surprised that Governor Gadfly cannot govern?

  7. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:17 am:

    This issue could likely end up in the background as the presses are being warmed up to print out the latest screeds regarding the lawsuit filed by Madigan and Cullerton.

    I have to admit I was skeptical of this “blue ribbon committee” coming up with anything substantive. While we haven’t seen their final report yet, it does appear they are grappling with the issue given Brady’s comments.

    I can see the sideshow barkers now - “this way to the great egress”.

  8. - horseracer - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    The conference committee was Pat Quinn’s idea. Never forget.

  9. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    If progress could have been made without the Governor’s veto of salaries, why didn’t a bill pass during regular session? Why can’t the general assembly do their job without being poked and prodded. The GA is full of mushrooms, and they begged to be in this position through their talk and inaction.

  10. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:07 am:

    Anon @ 10:36am,

    The GA as a whole couldn’t make much progress because they didn’t want to face the real, legal, solution to the pension problem - raising more revenue to actually make the needed level of payments.

    It will be interesting to see what the committee actually comes up with. If it is just a bunch of the recycled diminishment ideas, the issue will be in court for the next year. Based on the public hearings, the committee was also listening to revenue enhancement possibilities and that might be part of the package. There might also be a new ‘Tier 3′ path forward for new hires and a choice for existing employees to switch plans.

    Whatever the committee comes up with, I hope they make every part severable from every other part, because it is likely that unconstitutional actions will be part of the whole package. I would hate to see whatever real progress there is derailed by tying it all into one unseverable package.

  11. - Truth teller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    The criticism of Quinn is simply trying to pass the buck. The paycheck-withholding move was foretold when Quinn warned the legislature there would be consequences for non-action if they didn’t pass pension reform.

    Put simply, the legislators are now pinned down and need to pass something — anything — because the general public now understands who has been holding up the process. And that includes both GOP and Dem legislators.

  12. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    In fairness, everyone mocked Quinn when he called for the conference committee in the first place. The same people are mocking him for the salary move. But it seems to me that — in the larger analysis — both moves kept the heat on the issue where in past sessions it would have quietly faded as an issue due to lack of media oxygen.

    He may not be changing minds, or adding to the policy debate, but he should get credit for keeping the fire stoked and hot on this issue.

  13. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    OW is on target as usual. Whether it’s in spite of or because of, it matters little. Different folks will be motivated in different ways. The issue is “budging” now. I think the law suit yesterday is part of this. No matter where the heat is coming from, it’s hot enough to inspire progress. If the Gov. would currently sign either of the bills stuck in the legislature, he’d certainly sign one that is a compromise. It’s probably better the Governor’s people aren’t in there right now.

  14. - Les - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 12:19 pm:

    What are the chances the salary veto HURTS pension reform… Would another
    Il Supremes ruling that constitutional guarantees can not be touched by the
    legislative process halt any Con Cmtte proposals?

  15. - Truth teller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    Les: Doing nothing now on pension reform would be cutting off their nose (re-election) to their face (Quinn).

    Yes, the legislature will do everything in their power to make it “appear” Quinn’s actions did not move them to action (if indeed any “action” occurs). But again, the ball is in their court: Either they play ball or risk the wrath of the electorate.

    And yes, OW is right: If the Gov. was involved in the conference committee meetings, they’d simply attack him as opposed to working on the issue.

  16. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    As others note, this committee was Quinn’s idea. STL, nice cheap shot, but there is zero upside for Brady, his Party, or the Committee in making false statements about what is happening there, especially when they are easily refutable.

    What is most likely going on is some combination of actuarial work dragging on, members not liking the results, and/or logistics associated with the fact it’s late July.

  17. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    - there is zero upside -

    Are you kidding me?

  18. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    Very possible they are examining the numbers from a few (3 or more)actuaries on this. Whatever the savings are ?, they’re going to want to be as accurate and united in thought as possible. Could be we’re waiting on a fight between guys throwing slide rules, calculators and protractors at each other right now.

  19. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 4:03 pm:

    Assuming there is a proposed ‘Tier 3′ and it will be a optional choice for existing employees, the arguments are probably over what percentage would switch. It’s easy to rate things when it is either/or; it’s tough when it is maybe/maybe not.

    Either that, or the committee has a firm “savings target” they want to hit, and the choices they’ve sent off to be scored haven’t hit that number yet.

  20. - Rudy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 5:11 pm:

    If PQ hadn’t demanded a conference committee, there wouldn’t be one. The legislature would be home, waiting for fall session. They are making progress because the Governor demanded they stay at it.

  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 5:14 pm:

    ===If PQ hadn’t demanded a conference committee, there wouldn’t be one.===

    Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean there would’ve been no summer talks. Don’t delude yourself.

  22. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 5:16 pm:

    Also, don’t kid yourself into thinking that the governor has changed a single legislative mind on this issue.

  23. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 6:04 pm:

    If Brady can’t be trusted because he’s a candidate, then nether can Quinn.

  24. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 6:08 pm:

    –If Brady can’t be trusted because he’s a candidate, then nether can Quinn.–

    I was surprised Brady accepted the assignment, given the heat.

    But if the committee comes back with a bipartisan agreement that passes both chambers, he’ll get loads of good press and a real boost to his campaign.

    The Supremes will weigh in further down the road, of course, but that’s a story for another day.

  25. - Yabadaba - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 6:44 pm:

    it’s like three Nero’s playing their fidle while Rome burns.
    Although the GA has taken entirely too long to do pension reform including some cost shift tot he real employers who dtermine salaries, they appear to be on the cusp if the so-called Governor was paying attention at all. instead all he does is throw occasional bombshells (his whole career) arther than be at the table every day with th e legislators fashioning a solution. his actions have only delayed the state’s needs.

  26. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:19 pm:

    I’m going with the thought that Quinn’s stunt will end up delaying a pension reduction bill, not hasten it. Again, I’ll give him props for a good political re-election stunt, however, this further marginalizes him as a government leader. Unfortunately, political prowess and governmental incompetency has been the hallmark of the Blago/Quinn years.

  27. - Budget Watcher - Thursday, Aug 1, 13 @ 7:31 am:

    For the most part, I agree that the pension negotiations are moving despite Quinn’s grandstanding actions, not because of them. However, if grandstanding is his way of publicly calling out the General Assembly, his way of keeping the harsh spotlight on their work, then it may end up being an effective method. I’m not saying I admire or support the concept of shaming or embarrassing your partners, but if that’s all you have and it yields some progress, then I guess you say it worked.

    Of course, the long term impact of working with you partners is forever damaged. But then again, his relationship was already incredibly poor, so what has he really lost?

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