Dock legislators' pay 75 percent
Our Illinois General Assembly has been debating for more than two years how to close a government-employee pension shortfall. Gov. Quinn once again is trying to bring together legislative leaders following the close of their Spring Session to push forward on an overhaul.
The General Assembly could reconvene again in a Special Session but the bar is raised in such a session requiring a three-fifths majority for pension legislation to pass.
The two year impasse is costing taxpayers dearly. In April, our state sold 10-year tax-exempt bonds at a yield of 3.3 percent, 1.41 percentage points more than comparable maturing debt on Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data's benchmark scale. In other words, Illinois taxpayers' interest expense rate is 75 percent higher than what taxpayers in other states have to pay.
Those rates are likely to climb even higher since one of the major credit rating agencies, Fitch, downgraded Illinois's credit rating days after the General Assembly's legislative session ended without advancing pension reform. Fitch dropped Illinois's rating from "A" to "A-" because of our lawmakers' ineptness in dealing with our state's pension crisis.
We voters only have ourselves to blame by continuing to elect officials who can't even find a solution when a single party controls the legislative and executive branches of our state government. To offset those higher interest costs from debt brought on by exorbitant pension contributions perhaps our governor could show some real leadership. He should issue an executive order to help offset the 75 percent interest premium by directing the General Assembly's pay be docked 75 percent since they haven't been able to effectively do their job for well more than two years.