At Julian Oct. 9, Part 4: Parents quiz legislators on cost of college, school lunches, federal shutdown, pensions

Legislators answer the best they know how

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By Jim Bowman


* Cost of college? (from students)

Harmon: Aware of the problem and working on it. Yay! But what else is there to say to this question. from students? Have they been told the state legislators have a lot to say about this, so they have only Illinois state campuses in mind?

Lightford: Refers to MAP grant without explaining what it is, is not asked. Insider info again from KL. I looked it up.

The indomitable Lilly, blowing her horn again with highly questionable claim (for this CLAIM gathering): "I passed legislation [she passed it?] for grants for junior college." The horn blows at forums. "But I'd like to put on the table, [we should] get parents involved, [they can] tell us how to do it. We need to bring them to this room and ask them." This room? None are present? Hey, parents, get with it, OK?

School lunches? (students again, reference is apparently to menus: ingenuity alert for legislators)

Ford: "Form a student lunch committee. . . . It will change things."

Lightford: "Draft legislation, if you will, changing, uh, the menu. Open dialog with the school administration." Why not? Don't bother us with your menu problems, for gosh sakes? Yes.

8:45, fifteen minutes left, joke time . . .

Federal shutdown?

Harmon: Federal funding is in jeopardy. Agreed, but again, what's to say or what was to say on Oct. 9? Lightford promptly agreed with him.

Lilly: Depends on how long it lasts. Longer we're in it . . . Etc.

Budget, pensions?

Harmon: "Most complicated issue" yet. "We have to get [solution] right." Pensions were underfunded "the day I was born. . . Crucial reform of 2010 has been grossly underreported. Tribune doesn't . . . " Conference committee, house and senate, soon to come out with Cost of Living agreement, for $140 billion in savings. (Limiting automatic COLA raises)

Ford: Problem is "difficult to a degree," but "I could not support [any] benefits reduction [!]", because it's unconstitutional and because it reduces benefits." Uh-oh. No reductions?

Lightford: "I'm challenged. If a teacher after 25 to 30 years, retires, it's totally wrong to take [reduce] benefits." Woman in row behind your blogger-reporter: "Right."

"I'm not for it, I'm not against it. All who did their due diligence . . . " referring to pensioners who put in their time. Woman: "That's right."

Extended further comment, then: "We're talking about people's livelihoods." Woman: "That's right."

"I have time [to plan ahead], but . . . " -- refers to others who do not. "I can't give a yes or a no." Woman: "Thank you for that."

Lilly: "Process is just as important as the end itself." Hands in air, mike-sputter. "So correctively, what can we do? We need to listen to one another." Bromide time again.

"We are listening to state employees. Someone will walk away with less. But if we talk, they may have a better feeling toward our state [of Illinois]." But your state of confusion?

Ford: Someone on a fixed income "and working because they want to work," the outcome "might be good."

It was 9 pm, and end of Oct. 9 Julian forum with legislators.

Email: Twitter: @BlitheSp

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