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January 31, 2013

No progress, no paycheck

Not much riles lawmakers in Springfield. Got $9 billion in unpaid bills? Yawn. Another credit rating agency downgrades the state? Ho-hum. Reform state workers’ pensions because of $96 billion in unfunded liabilities? We’ll think about it another day.

But lawmakers got all stirred up this week when new state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, introduced a bill that ties lawmakers’ pay to getting that backlog of unpaid bills caught up.

How dare one of their brethren suggest they should suffer? This bill is going nowhere.

But Meier is right, they shouldn’t collect a paycheck until they do their jobs. For most of us, that’s the minimum requirement of getting paid. It’s outrageous and embarrassing that lawmakers still get their paychecks on schedule while the state’s vendors have to wait months for their checks.

Even lawmaker’s loved ones can see the wisdom of prodding lawmakers into action. Meier tells the story of a fellow lawmaker who thought his wife would be furious if the bill passed and he didn’t bring home a paycheck, but later told Meier that she “absolutely loves” the bill.

No one should be surprised that Meier’s proposal caused a commotion when nothing else has. This just reinforces what we already knew: that most of the lawmakers are there for their own self-interests, not the public good.

If only we had more people in Springfield who think like Charlie Meier and that lawmaker’s wife.

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