The check is in the mail

Finally, a paycheck for regional school superintendents!

In their typically stumbling, backward and sluggish manner, Illinois legislators last week resolved a comparatively minor problem.

They figured out a way to pay the salaries of the state's 44 regional superintendents of education, elected officials who have gone without a paycheck since July 1.

The regional superintendents became an issue following Gov. Quinn's last minute decision to veto a roughly $13 million appropriation for the salaries of the superintendents and their assistants. Quinn was indefensibly late raising the issue, and it's hard to believe a public official who professes to care about people would act in such an inappropriate fashion.

Now, after months of intermittent debate, legislators finally agreed to pay the superintendents for one year from the corporate personal property replacement tax fund, which has been reserved for local governments.

They also decided to order a study of the regional superintendents' offices to determine to what extent they are needed to oversee K-12 education or whether their duties can be transferred to other governmental entities.

Under the circumstance, that's probably the best temporary solution that could be reached.

But this backwards approach says volumes about how government in Illinois operates.

The offices of regional superintendent may be unnecessary. Their legal duties may be better done elsewhere. It's possible that tax dollars could be saved by a reorganization.

But better to find out first and then take action.

Quinn's salary veto put the cart before the horse.

Regional superintendents, elected officials who earn about $100,000 a year, are a creation of state law. If these offices are going to be re-engineered or eliminated, it will take legislative action.

It's Quinn's contention that they ought not be paid out of the state budget, but instead out of the corporate personal property tax. So why didn't he offer the appropriate legislation to the General Assembly in advance, a move that could have avoided the problems of the last four-plus months?

It's behavior like this that has raised questions about Quinn's judgment and laid the groundwork for his poor relationship with state legislators.

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