Fair warning

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Don't say you didn't see it coming.

This spring, the Illinois House leadership declined to call a vote on Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed full-percentage-point increase in the income tax. House members, sensing public sentiment, wouldn't have approved it. And they won't again consider that measure until after Nov. 2.

On Tuesday, Quinn said the Illinois Senate won't vote on his proposed $3.7 billion in borrowing to fund payments into state pension funds until, yes, after Nov. 2.

Why the delays? Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton clearly sense voters' rising fury against incumbents who've overspent and overborrowed. But instead of taking a new tack — a responsible reinvention of state government — they're pushing decisions off until they're safety past the election.

Madigan and Cullerton evidently think they have no choice but to stall. They sent their members on summer vacation rather than deal with the financial mess that decades of outlandish spending and borrowing have created. Madigan and Cullerton didn't even pass a balanced budget. They shoved spending decisions into Quinn's lap and then tried to pretend they had given him unprecedented authority. Quinn, the butt of this lousy joke, would rather play the martyr than refuse to go along with them.

If only Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton hadn't squandered nearly two years of opportunities to streamline government in Illinois. Had they instituted all manner of efficiencies, they could have earned the credibility required to ask citizens for higher taxes.

Instead, the three leaders chose not to make Illinois a model of reinvention, because reducing the state's financial obligations would have angered public employees unions and other favored constituencies. Now they're so fearful of voters that they're delaying more taxation and borrowing until after the election.

No one will be able to whine that he or she wasn't warned.