NO PERMITS UNTIL 2014?
This week Illinois became the last state in the nation with a right-to-carry law on the books, but it could be 2014 before Illinoisans begin to see permits issued. The Illinois State Police has been tasked with overseeing the application process and say they will need time to gear up. Their estimates show it could take six months to set up the system and another three months to process and screen applicants.
When it goes into effect, Illinois will require one of the most rigorous training programs in the nation for concealed carry, with permit holders required to complete 16 hours of training and pay a $150 permit fee.
The override on right-to-carry was a major defeat for Gov. Pat Quinn, a staunch opponent of guns, who had spent much of the previous week orchestrating media events in Chicago in an effort to build support for his changes.
GOVERNOR PIVOTS TO PENSION REFORM
In the wake of his defeat on concealed carry, the Governor turned his attention the next day to pensions by removing legislators' salaries from the state budget until a pension solution is found. Quinn also claimed he would not accept any pay until the reforms were adopted, but did not cut his salary from the budget.
Senator Brady, a member of the Conference Committee on pension reform criticized the Governor for his act of political theater and for his failure to involve himself in the process.
"Governor Quinn has failed to detail a plan and has failed to lead on this issue. The Conference Committee needs to meet as soon as we can and the Governor should be at that meeting. He can’t send a proxy in his place because we need to hear from him what he wants to see in a pension reform bill,” said Senator Bill Brady. “Real reform is about protecting the people who have paid into the system from the fiscal irresponsibility that has lead to the underfunded pension system and fiscal instability that threatens Illinois.”
A majority of legislators have voted for pension reform bills and different measures have passed both the House and Senate, but the Governor has been unable to get his two legislative leaders to agree on an approach. Additionally, it was the Governor who requested that a Conference Committee be formed to try to hash out an agreement. Finally, the Governor has come in for sharp criticism for failing to appear before that Conference Committee to clarify what he wants to see in a pension reform bill.
The Governor's action on legislative salaries may ultimately prove to be ineffective, as it may conflict with the state Constitution's ban on reducing an elected official's pay during the official's term of office – a separation of powers provision that was inserted in the Constitution to prevent one branch of government from altering the pay of another branch in political retaliation.
PENSION REFORM COMMITTEE MET
Senator Brady and the Conference Committee on pension reform met Monday, July 8 in Springfield, partly in hopes of getting a clear picture from the Governor on his ideas for reform.
Governor Quinn declined to appear and instead sent his budget director, who stuck to a prepared script and frustrated lawmakers by providing few specifics on what the Governor supports.
The Conference Committee has asked financial experts to review various options to determine what the potential savings might be. Because of the complex nature of the calculations, it was expected that the committee would not see projections for a week or more.