Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Who is the most responsible state budget maker?
Live from the Capitol on Blagojevich budget address. The big problem is the public pension system. It is out of control. Who will tame the beast - and just as importantly, who will get public credit for financial responsibility to be entrusted with control of state government? So far the Governor is at least half right. Today he is calling for new retirees to have a scaled down pension with things like a 2 percent annual adjustment instead of a 3 percent bump and an end to the special sweeteners for this cop's widow and that group of prison guards. Those are long overdue steps already strenuously resisted by most of the unions. Imterestingly the GOP is apparently allying themselves with the teachers unions and rejecting the responsible pension position - but the GOP position is still murky. So far the person who deserves the most credit for pension responsibility is Speaker Madigan who single handedly blocked the teachers early retirement option that would cost the state just shy of a billion - essentially financing the past instead of the future because those pension dollars do not buy young teachers or schoolbooks for needy kids. But Speaker Madigan essentially gets no credit for his do the right thing move, certainly not from the Tribune editorial page which pays attention to things here. Can the Governor with his superior messaging skills and easy access to a statewide bully pulpit get the credit that eludes Speaker Madigan? Let's find out.