The Illinois House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage in the state, replacing an existing provision for civil unions. The bill will now proceed to the Illinois Senate and to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for likely passage. This week, the Illinois legislature postponed consideration of reforms to the state’s pension system, which has $100 billion in unfunded liabilities and is among the nation’s worst.
The Democrat-controlled state legislature has frequently postponed the pension problem, even as the state’s credit rating has tumbled to the bottom, saddling taxpayers with higher costs when the state borrows money. Illinois’ last credit downgrade, in June, was directly related to the failure of state lawmakers to tackle pension reform. A large income tax increase in 2011 did not help the state’s economy and did little for its budget woes.
Yet in the same space of time that the Illinois legislature tackled same-sex marriage on several occasions, it has refused to deal with the pension problem. Earlier this year, Gov. Quinn suspended legislators’ pay because of their failure to deal with pensions–but was overruled in court and may lose his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. For his fellow Illinois Democrats, fiscal collapse is simply less urgent than gay marriage.