The League of Women Voters of Evanston heard from four state legislators at its annual legislative luncheon Tuesday at the North Shore Retirement Hotel, including one who summed up the pension financing debacle as having “run out of pixie dust.”
The four speakers included Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (9th Dist.), Rep. Robyn Gabel (18th Dist.), Rep. Daniel Biss (10th Dist.), and Rep. Louis Lang (16th Dist.).
Schoenberg, who is not running for re-election, discussed his win’s and losses during 22 years in the General Assembly, including reaching an agreement between the state and the Village of Northfield that will widen the last mile or so of Willow Road that connects the Edens Expressway with the North-South Tollway.
Schoenberg: The Willow Road project has been ongoing since Ogilvie was governor.
“This is a project that’s been ongoing since Richard Ogilvie was governor,” he declared. Ogilvie served as Illinois governor from 1969 to 1973.
Schoenberg has represented the 9th District since 2003. Previously, he spent six terms in the state House of Representatives, from 1990 to 2002.
Gabel: An increase in jobs will help the state grow out of its budget problems.
Rep. Gabel said the state will have to grow its way out of its budget problems. Because most of the state’s revenues come from the personal income tax and the sales tax, it is important that ways be found to put more unemployed Illinoisans back to work.
Rep. Biss, who is running for the state Senate post being vacated by Schoenberg, explained that “human beings have trouble making decisions…even for themselves.”
Biss: Legislators have run out of unicorns and pixie dust.
A failure to pay for authorized expenditures, such as pension benefits, he said, eventually caught up with the lawmakers.”
“We’ve run out of unicorns; we’ve run out of pixie dust,” he declared.
Lang: Any pension solution must be constitutional.
Rep. Lang said he will vote for the best solution to the pension problem that is consistent with the state constitution, which says that benefits to existing pensioneers cannot be reduced.
“We cannot and must not pass legislation that ignores the constitution,” he said, “as it will just be bounced back by the Supreme Court.”
On a more positive note, Lang said that the mess in Springfield is not as bad as the mess in Washington.
“We have bipartisan action in Springfield,” he declared. “We get things done.”