There's no rest for the weary in the State Senate. Later today, less than two days after the midterm elections concluded, the chamber will reconvene in Springfield for a special session. The topic? Pensions.
Back in May, the Illinois House passed a $4 billion borrowing bill (SB 3514) that would allow the government to make its pension contribution this fiscal year. The upper chamber punted. That was unfortunate; without a bond, the governor must find an additional $4 billion somewhere in the stripped-down budget or skip over the pensions entirely, which would cost taxpayers $36 billion over the next 25 years. With the state swimming in debt, it's really a no-brainer.
Can Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) expect a different result tomorrow than he got this spring? Probably not. The Senate needs a three-fifths majority -- 36 votes -- to approve the borrowing proposal. Currently, they have 37 members. (That will probably shrink to 35 after January.) But several Democrats are skittish about casting the vote. And only one Republican -- State Sen. Larry Bomke (R-Springfield) -- has even hinted that he might cross party lines and make the rational vote. The party leadership carries most of the blame; two retiring Republicans who sided with Democrats in the House were thrown under the bus by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) earlier this year. There aren't any Senate GOPers who lost Tuesday night or who are retiring this cycle either, which theoretically could have given a member some wiggle room to make a politically controversial vote before exiting stage right. If the bill stalls, expect to see some desperate maneuvers in the coming weeks.
UPDATE (4:21 p.m.): The Illinois Senate left the state capitol today without voting on SB 3514. There won't be a vote on the issue until at least November 16, when the chamber reconvenes for its veto session.