Con-Con Talk

At least one local educator is telling children that a state constitutional convention (con-con) equals elimination of their beloved teachers’ pensions. Evidently the subject of special-interest propaganda, along with the dangers of driving and drugs and death-metal music, must be discussed with the offspring both early and often. So be it. I’ll also go on record once again in support of a con-con.

Short “pro-con-con” argument: “Egregious constitutional errors are not fixing themselves.” But also take a look at the following longer version, well-expressed by Springfield blogger Will Reynolds in a post titled “Bring Democracy to Illinois”:

The Illinois Constitution does not provide for democratic measures existing in other states such as: a binding referendum that allows the public to vote directly on laws; a reasonable discharge petition requirement that permits legislative action on bills opposed by leadership; fair rules to allow equal participation by third party and independent candidates; and limits on the use of the amendatory veto.

The recent gridlock and controversy in state government is not unique to the current cast of players. Popular bills bottled up without a vote in one chamber of the legislature, the lack of legislative involvement in creating the budget, and abuse of excessive executive power are stories repeated far too often during the last thirty years. These are systemic problems that will continue into the future without fundamental reform.

Wealthy special interest groups are funding an advertising campaign to oppose a constitutional convention because they know the current system is rigged in their favor. Groups who exercise their power through large campaign contributions and curry favor at open-bar receptions for legislators fear the uncertainty of unfamiliar constitutional convention delegates newly elected by the people. It takes away their advantage of the relationships they have spent years and millions of dollars developing with current state leaders. Despite the scare tactics, state workers and teachers have the most to gain from a new constitution with the prospect of guaranteed pension funding for state workers, and education funding reforms that both parties have talked about but failed to pass for twenty years.