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Local Editorials

What the state needs now is more governance, less politics

Illinois needs statesmen and stateswomen to solve the state’s public pension funding crisis. If Illinois politicians don’t rise to the occasion, the state’s downward financial spiral will only worsen.

Governance – the act of governing – has the best chance of success when statesmen and stateswomen are at the helm.

Put skilled, experienced, and respected leaders in places of power, let them cast politics aside and focus on the difficulties at hand, and the people rightly should expect fair and just solutions.

Unfortunately, Illinois politicians don’t get much of a chance to cast politics aside and engage in statesmanship. After one election cycle ends, the next one begins far too soon.

The last election was Nov. 6. Now, about 7 months later, candidates have already come forth for the 2014 election, which won’t happen for 17 months.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner want to run for the Republican nomination for governor. They made their announcements earlier this month.

Gov. Pat Quinn already said he would seek re-election. A Democratic primary is fairly certain, as former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, the former Chicago mayor’s brother, has just formed an exploratory committee. Attorney General Lisa Madigan may also jump into the race.

And second-tier candidates are emerging. On the Republican side, Bob Schillerstrom, a former chairman of the DuPage County Board, said Wednesday that he wants to run for state treasurer.

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon previously announced her intentions to seek a different statewide office, but she hasn’t said which one.

Much of the maneuvering started after the Legislature adjourned May 31 without accomplishing its key responsibility – reform the state’s shaky public-employee pension system, whose debt has grown to $97 billion.

Quinn has called the Legislature back into sesson on June 19 to tackle the problem, which threatens to devour more and more of the state budget – $6 billion for fiscal year 2014 alone.

Intra-party politics that pits two Democrats, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, against each other and against fellow Democrat Quinn derailed pension reform this past winter and spring.

With the November 2014 election already square on the political horizon, prospects for a solution aren’t necessarily rosy.

A solution can be reached if elected leaders put politics aside for once and focus on the unfinished business of governing this troubled state.

Taxpayers pay elected officials handsomely. They owe the people real results, not more politics.

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