When 2012 becomes 2013, it will truly be lame duck season at the state Capitol. The new General Assembly will not be sworn in until Jan. 9, but after Jan. 1, it takes only a simple majority to pass legislation. It’s possible lawmakers – including dozens who will not be re-inaugurated Jan. 9 – will be asked to take difficult votes on their way out of Springfield.
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That happened in 2011, when – with the help of a number of lame ducks – the legislature granted the governor’s wish for an income tax increase. Some lawmakers who campaigned against the increase turned around and voted for it after they lost their elections. Then they got state jobs.
The Illinois Senate has gotten around to confirming two of them, Bob Flider to be director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and Mike Smith to a seat on the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. Flider, denying a quid pro quo, says, “The truth will set you free.”
Suggesting Flider is simply unqualified, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) argued, “He was a member of the General Assembly, so in that regard, we’re all qualified to be director of agriculture.” Flider’s job pays $133,273 annually, Smith’s $93,926.
The appointees occupied the positions on an acting basis pending confirmation. Quinn appointed Flider in February, Smith in June 2011.