Two years ago, Gov. Pat Quinn managed to win an election based on the issues of guns, abortion, and the humane disposal of dogs.
If he runs again, he won’t be so lucky. First of all, he won’t be running against state Sen. Bill Brady. Second of all, the 2014 will be about economic issues, specifically, pension reform.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who is already spending as much time running for governor as he is managing the state’s money, jumped on Quinn Wednesday after Standard & Poor’s Rating Services lowered Illinois’s credit rating from A+ to A. That’s the second-lowest rating in the nation, just a notch above California’s A-.
“I’ve said this before. If Illinois does not substantively act on the pension situation, this downgrade will come. Standard & Poor’s has told us this before. They are people of their word, and it has now happened,” [Rutherford] said.
It also gives Illinois a negative outlook for the future.
Lower credit ratings can cost the state by raising the interest rate it must offer when borrowing money.
Rutherford isn’t sure what it will take to get lawmakers to finally agree on pension reforms.
“I hope this is enough, but I’m not convinced it is yet. I think the election is the magic moment that will bring about some timeline of decision,” he said.
The Tribune reports that Quinn may use his veto of the gambling bill to force legislators to come around on pension reform:
For Quinn, a long-in-the-works gambling expansion provides potential leverage when the General Assembly returns to the Capitol at the end of November. If enough lawmakers want casinos and the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, Quinn could try to strike a deal in exchange for comprehensive cost-cutting to the state’s struggling pension systems.
Pensions are now consuming 20 percent of the state’s spending. Thanks to redistricting, and Illinois’s Democratic bent, House Speaker Michael Madigan is not likely to get fired if the General Assembly fails to pass pension reform. But Pat Quinn will.
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.