Updated with Lisa Madigan response
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley went on the offensive this morning against both his potential primary opponents and urged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to “step forward and opine” on the pension crisis in the state.
He accused both Lisa Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn of failing to lead on the issue that has meant a $100 billion liability for Illinois and resulted in two recent bond rating downgrades.
Daley called the news conference after filing for a gubernatorial exploratory committee. The timing is also aimed at this week’s special session called by Quinn.
Daley called on Lisa Madigan, as the chief lawyer in the state, to give the Legislature legal guidance on the constitutionality of the rivaling pension bills. He then called on a plan that would dedicated 50 percent of savings from the pension savings to go to education.
“This has been at the root of the problem over the last six months, the Senate’s been stuck on the fact that their bill is constitutional and all other bills are constitutional. So I think it’s time that the Attorney General … step forward and opine on this question,” Daley said at a news conference held in the Union League Club this morning. “If she believes she must be asked … then they should immediately ask for that opinion.”
As for Gov. Quinn, Daley called on the governor to come out more forcefully in support of Senate Bill 1 — Speaker Michael Madigan’s legislation — by threatening to veto the bill that both Senate President John Cullerton and unions have endorsed.
“The governor must make clear. Emphatically clear, and then stick to this, that he will veto the Senate bill because it doesn’t go far enough,” Daley said. “The House bill cuts three times the pension deficit as the Senate bill.”
Lisa Madigan has laid low on the pension issue, arguing she would have to defend it in court. Her office on Monday said the Attorney General is keeping the state’s “legal options open” but that it is “already aggressively defending the state in multiple cases,” that will “significantly impact” the direction the Legislature can take.
“For over a year, she has been providing the legislature with legal advice and analysis on the constitutional issues. As everyone is aware, the constitutional questions involved will ultimately be resolved by a court opinion, not the Attorney General’s opinion,” said spokeswoman Natalie Bauer. “As a result, the Attorney General is doing her job to keep the state’s legal options open while building the strongest legal arguments to ensure that the legislature’s final plan survives an inevitable court challenge.”
But Daley argues the state’s lawyer has come out in favor of marriage equality and could do the same with constitutionality of the pension bill backed by her father.
“The bill in the House is a good bill that goes a lot further in the Senate to solve the problem and all of this is about trying to solve the problem,” Daley said.
While Daley supported the savings in the House bill — he immediately had plans to redirect half of that money. The third tenet of Daley’s news conference was to give state senators something to vote for in the plan by linking half of the estimated $2.5 billion annual savings to public education.
“I suppose the savings that come out of the House bill if it passes, at least half of it be used to fund education improvements and therefore help the future of this great state,” Daley said.
Quinn has directed lawmakers to Madigan’s bill and has said Senate president John Cullerton’s bill doesn’t go far enough. But he has not outright said he would veto Cullerton’s plan.
“As everyone knows, Governor Quinn has fully backed Senate Bill 1 (referred to as the Madigan bill) – which is based on the governor’s pension reform plan that he laid out in April 2012– and he has met with numerous legislators and worked very hard to pass it over the past several months,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “The reality is that pension reform will not be law in Illinois unless the Speaker of the House and Senate President work together in good faith to put the bill on the governor’s desk. Refusal to work together in good faith is costing taxpayers $17 million a day.”