State credit-rating downgraded again

Published 06/03 2013 06:04PM

Updated 06/04 2013 09:56AM

SPRINGFIELD -- A leading credit-rating agency announced Monday it's downgrading Illinois' credit again. It's the 10th time Illinois has seen a credit downgrade since the beginning of last year. And it all has to do with one thing: pensions.

"We are literally going to leave this place and not do pensions," said Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego). The house minority leader questioned his colleagues before session adjourned Friday.

Pensions have been a problem eluding this body for about three years. It's a problem that costs the state $17 million each day. A third of this coming year's budget will go to retirement costs.

Monday's downgrade marks the 10th the state has faced since early 2012.

"The people of the state of Illinois couldn't care less about a credit rating," said Rep. David Harris, (R-Arlington Heights). "It's kind of like the national debt. It's out there and you don't really think about it. But we know what a credit rating is. We know what a laughing stock we are because we have an A2 credit rating. It's a disgrace."

As session ended Friday, there were many of the same speeches from a year ago.

"It's as if we took this house, put a fresh coat of paint on it, put a new door, maybe some new bushes, some shudders and it really looks pretty but the foundation is crumbling," Cross said. "And that's what's happening in the State of Illinois."

The State of Illinois feeling a bitter sense of deja vu. And the passion of a persistent problem is starting to boil over.

"We've heard for three years that this is the most important issue facing the State of Illinois, but we have not have the meeting of the whole," said Rep. Jack Franks, (D-Marengo). "We have not had what we need to have got done here on the House floor. We have not seen the governor. He has not done his job. And as a result everyone in this state is going to suffer."

Gov. Pat Quinn says he is convening a meeting with the speaker of the State House and the president of the State Senate Tuesday.

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