Lawmakers busy in 2015 stamping out those widgets

Maybe the boys in Springfield think they are being paid by the piece. That would certainly explain why they had time to pass more bills in 2015 than they did in each of the previous four years.

All the evidence points to quantity over quality. Illinois passed 237 laws last year after passing 197 in 2014, 221 in 2013, 157 in 2012 and 214 in 2011.

Legislators had time to ponder bobcat hunting, pumpkin pie, powdered alcohol, changes in divorce terminology, gay-conversion therapy, police body cameras, carbon monoxide detectors in schools and pets left in hot cars. They decided pet cruelty was bad, but that it is worse if you beat Fido in front of a child.

When you are busy doing piece work, there isn’t time for the craftsmanship, or statesmanship, required to tackle substantive works that last. There was no state budget. There was no improvement in the state pension deficit, now topping $110 billion. There was no movement on improving the state’s business climate to stanch the job and resident bleed. There were no fiscal moves to halt the state’s dive toward junk bond status. There was no progress toward paying the state’s $7 billion backlog of bills.

Lawmakers in 2015 needed to craft a finely-tuned economic engine that would dig us out of this deep financial hole. Instead they made us a cheap, plastic toy shovel that would have been better outsourced to China.