The Illinois General Assembly failed to produce a balanced state budget during its regular session, an act required by the state constitution.
But that doesn't mean legislators wasted their days. They passed some important stuff, ranging from pushing for the restoration of Pluto's status as a planet to making sure the state has an official vegetable, pie and even polka song.
It's not entirely fair to be too critical of these actions. They probably took little time and these resolutions and bills are obviously important to someone. But, then so is a balanced state budget. Some examples of what they accomplished:
A House resolution calling for the restoration of Pluto as a full-fledged planet: Gov. Bruce Rauner probably wants to send some legislators to Pluto, but this has been an issue floating around the statehouse for a few years. That's because Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, was born in Streator. Pluto was demoted from planet to minor planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union. Past legislatures have also considered resolutions to make Pluto a planet again, which have been mostly ignored by the astronomical union.
A House resolution naming the state's official polka song: Because, every state needs an official polka song. The song, “Polka Celebration,” was written and composed by Chicago native Eddie Blazonczyk Sr., who won a Grammy for the tune in 1986.
Bills to designate the pumpkin pie as the official state pie and sweet corn as the official state vegetable: We have nothing against pumpkin pie or sweet corn. Both are grown in great quantities in the state.
A House resolution requiring rest areas to stock their machines with at least two healthy snacks: Here's where the legislature could use its imagination. Why not require every rest area to sell pumpkin pie and sweet corn? Now we're on to something.
A bill that would create a monarch butterfly license plate to raise money to plant more milkweed, which will help boost the population of the state's official butterfly: The monarch was declared the state's official butterfly 30 years ago after a lobbying effort by students at Decatur's Dennis School. But the state has too many license plates. The monarch does need more milkweed habitat, but we don't see how a license plate accomplishes that. Milkweed seeds might do the trick.
A bill that would allow meat processors to butcher exotic game meet gunned down at places like Ted Nugent's ranch in Michigan: We didn't even know that was an issue, but it's good to know that the legislature is on top of it.
We hope someday soon to write an editorial praising a compromise that has put the state on a sound financial track. Until then, it's nice to know that the General Assembly is trying to sort out some of these pressing issues.