Illinois lawmakers paused for spring break without enacting any serious pension reform but Gov. Pat Quinn continues to use his bully pulpit to push for it as if his political future depends upon it. (U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin just made it clear that it does.)
Quinn said any plan needs to guarantee future funding. That's a laugh. The state can't guarantee that payments will be made five years from now, much less 40 or 50 years. Illinois promised to make the pensions whole before, and instead spent the money on raises and new programs while the unions stayed silent and let it happen.
Lawmakers need to pass reforms because doing nothing gets the state -- the taxpayers -- deeper in debt each passing day. The unfunded liability of all five pension systems is almost $100 billion, which is even worse when you put the number in context. That's nearly three times the state's annual general fund budget of $34 billion.
Rank-and-file state workers are starting to seriously worry that their pensions might not be there when they retire. A state can't go bankrupt, but a pension fund sure could.
Maybe those workers will provide the push lawmakers need to adopt a pension reform plan that is sustainable, politically acceptable and can withstand a constitutional challenge.
The House reconvenes on April 8 and the Senate on April 10.