Well, it's today or never if Illinois lawmakers want a pension reform deal done during the lame-duck session.
House Speaker Michael Madigan claims he wants reform. So does Senate President John Cullerton. If that's true, pension reform will be enacted by the end of the day, which is the end of the session. If a deal doesn't get done, it will be because these two powerful Democrats who control the majority of votes aren't really trying.
Politically, this is ideal timing. It's after the election and some of the lawmakers are lame ducks who will not be back. Madigan dropped his plan to shift teacher pension costs to local school districts, a huge stumbling block.
Most importantly, it's urgent that the system be reformed. Everyone knows that something needs to happen. The state's unfunded pension liability is now a whopping $96 billion. That debt is like an anchor around the state's neck that gets heavier with each passing day. It is getting increasingly difficult for Illinois to stay afloat and function with that kind of weight pulling the state down.
The Senate has already passed a reform bill and a House committee approved a different version on Monday. This is lawmakers' profiles in courage moment. Or it will be another embarrassing display of what they're best known for in Springfield -- doing nothing.