We can think of nothing less secret than the oozing, festering sore that is the state’s financial condition. And yet, the Illinois Senate held a secret, closed-door meeting last week to hear from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has tracked financial messes across the country.

We can think of nothing less secret than the oozing, festering sore that is the state’s financial condition.

And yet, the Illinois Senate held a secret, closed-door meeting last week to hear from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has tracked financial messes across the country. The group is a clearinghouse for bipartisan information and problem-solving on issues facing states.

We applaud senators for wanting to step back and apply best practices in the midst of this horror show.

We are horrified, however, that senators could somehow justify holding a closed-door meeting. The State Journal-Register in Springfield quoted a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, who said Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, agreed to hold the meeting in private so lawmakers could start a bipartisan dialogue. So they could ask questions without feeling undue scrutiny.

Undue scrutiny? Isn’t that their due as elected officials? Isn’t that what we pay them for?

Are we really at a place in Illinois politics where the only way to behave in a bipartisan manner and solve problems is behind closed doors? And what? They are ashamed to do those things in the light of day?

The Senate called the meeting a joint caucus, according to the Springfield newspaper. It was held in a Statehouse committee room and was closed to reporters and the public.

Newsflash: the public pays for that Statehouse room and, at the end of the day, the public will have to pay every miserable cent that the state owes — at last count, $13 billion.

If that’s not “buy in” — if that’s not being entitled to listen to every last detail about the budgetary cesspool we have fallen in — we don’t know what is.

Stop being cowards, senators, and don’t ever, ever try this trick again. This is a democracy, not a private discussion group.

Rockford Register Star