Remember Squeezy the Pension Python? Events from 2012 to Supreme Court decision

  • Squeezy the Pension Python was a small part of a large effort behind the pension law that was struck down Friday.

    Squeezy the Pension Python was a small part of a large effort behind the pension law that was struck down Friday. Screenshot

 
 
Updated 5/8/2015 5:17 PM

Squeezy the Pension Python is dead.

The orange, cartoon snake debuted in a 2012 Internet video commissioned by Gov. Pat Quinn in an effort to explain Illinois' mind-numbingly complicated pension debt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Squeezy wrapped tightly around a photo of the Capitol dome, causing it to bulge. It was Quinn's attempt to illustrate the squeeze rising pension costs put on the state budget.

Squeezy didn't change a lot of lawmakers' votes, but his brief moment as a YouTube star marked one moment in the effort that dominated state politics for a few years and led to the 2013 law that the Illinois Supreme Court overturned Friday.

Here are some other key events in the long road to Friday's court decision.

• Right around the time Squeezy debuted, state Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat, was driving home from a 2012 legislative session that produced no action on a pension proposal when he fielded phone calls from frustrated lawmakers. The legislation he and state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, later filed would become the source material for the 2013 law.

• Despite the hype, lawmakers left Springfield in 2013 without sending a pension proposal to Quinn, who had proposed his own plan.

• A few months later, Quinn cut lawmakers' pay in a budget maneuver. "They must have that alarm bell ringing in their ears and the best way to do that is to hit them in the wallet," he said.

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• Shortly after Thanksgiving of 2013, lawmakers struck a deal on the law that would eventually find its way to the Supreme Court. The move gave Quinn something to brag about on the 2014 campaign trail. Then-candidate Bruce Rauner worked against the plan behind the scenes.

• Late last year, a Sangamon County judge sided with union leaders who had sued to stop the law, arguing it was unconstitutional. That set up an appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.

• On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed. Because the law was put on ice while the court process took place, no pension benefits were cut by a single dollar, despite the massive political energy put behind the effort. The Supreme Court's opinion didn't waffle: "Adherence to constitutional requirements often requires significant sacrifice, but our survival as a society depends on it."

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