Another Month, Another Political Porker
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has announced their Porker of the Month for September, and he is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D). He was awarded the dubious honor:
"for suggesting the possibility of a federal bailout for his state’s public sector pension programs, which are among the least funded in America. Gov. Quinn’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget (published in 2011), referenced his state’s looming pension problem, stating that “while the pension reform of 2010 improved the situation by decreasing future liabilities … significant long term improvements will come only from additional pension reforms, refinancing the liability and seeking a federal guarantee of the debt, or increasing the annual required state contributions [emphasis added].” When queried about it then, the governor claimed that the inclusion of that bailout language was a “precaution.”
CAGW justifies giving this dubious award to Gov. Quinn this way:
"On September 20, 2012, The Wall Street Journal was alerted to the language by the Illinois Public Policy Institute, which had launched a website called NoPensionBailout.com. Exposed again, Gov. Quinn repudiated the budget language and claimed its inclusion in the 2012 budget had been a drafting “error,” even though it was still in the document. However, as far back as October 2009, an article published in Crain's Chicago Business reported that “… local officials have asked President Barack Obama for a few favors since he took office; but now they want a really big one: a federal guarantee of a potential $14-billion Illinois pension bond obligation issue. According to newly installed state Budget Director David Vaught, Gov. Pat Quinn recently brought up the idea with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others at the White House. The governor got a good enough reception that he ‘intends to extend’ his efforts, Mr. Vaught said.” Though the governor is rapidly trying to distance himself from the budget language (it has finally been expunged from the document), he has as yet refused to publicly rule out the possibility of seeking a federal pension bailout for Illinois in the future.
“Whether Illinois manages to secure a public sector pension bailout or not, Gov. Quinn has, with this budget language and subsequent conflicted statements, sent an encouraging message to other mismanaged states which could incent state officials to view federal bailouts as a viable possibility,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Intentionally or not, he has caused ears to prick up in state governments across the country, where decades of poor management along with an unwillingness to protect taxpayers from exorbitant wage and benefit demands by state workers have left huge debts and unfunded liabilities. It is critical that lawmakers nip this notion in the bud, and assure federal taxpayers everywhere that they will not be left holding the bag for states that have failed to get their fiscal houses in order."
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