House Republicans in Springfield are convinced that House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) will pass a state budget next week without their support and without a tax increase. If that's the case, the FY 2011 spending package will not include a $4 billion pension borrowing plan, which needs three-fifths majority support.
That's bad news, especially for public employees, who both parties have already thrown under the bus this session. Allowing the state to defer its pension payment until January (HB 543) also lays a political landmine for the two gubernatorial nominees, who would be forced to drum up $4 billion early in their first term. If they can't, skipping the contribution entirely would cost taxpayers $36 billion over the next 25 years. That's not a good way to start off the new legislative year.