Editorial: Legislature has too much to do in too little time

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A quick review of the agenda of decisions that need to be made by the State Legislature during the next two weeks creates a reason to be concerned that lawmakers have too much on their plate to reasonably study, debate and ultimately decide on several major initiatives.

The Legislature runs out of time May 31. That is the scheduled date for the spring session to adjourn and by that time lawmakers must approve a new state budget, decide whether to adopt recommendations by the Illinois Reform Commission, and figure out which bills, of literally thousands, need to be turned into law.

The budget represents the most time-consuming and difficult of the Legislature’s tasks. Gov. Quinn has proposed a 50-percent increase in the state income tax and numerous other revenue generating initiatives to close an $11 billion deficit. On the expense side, his original idea of cutting into the state’s contribution to the teachers’ pension was greeted with such a raucous response that he has backed off that plan. Other ideas, however, are still on the table and are sure to raise the ire of special interests who either rely on state services that will be cut, or have state jobs that will be eliminated.

Due to the Legislative schedule, however, it is very likely we will see the same kind of power-brokering that has dominated Illinois state politics in the past. We can expect that the most influential of the state’s legislators, all Democrats, will gather in a room, lock the door, and emerge with what they want for a state budget. Republican input will not be sought or accepted and politicians who are outside the Chicago circle will likely have little to contribute.

Which brings up the second most important piece of legislation: the findings of the Reform Commission. Last month this group brought forward several strong ideas for cleaning corruption from the ranks of Illinois state government. Several leading politicians were clearly uncomfortable with some of the recommendations limiting campaign contributions and opening up the process to select contractors in the new legislation.

We now have two weeks for both of these major pieces of legislation to reach the governor’s desk, and from the early looks of the situation, it appears we will have government as usual.

That’s a disappointment.

Freeport Journal-Standard