The jig is up for Illinois politicians after three decades of dereliction and malfeasance. They’ve chronically raided state pension funds to cover budget deficits and overspend on most state agencies and programs.
Their recent huge income tax increase, swallowed into the deficit maw, will become permanent. Illinois’ bonds, practically municipal junk, were peddled fraudulently. Misdirecting blame to pensions allows politicians to target their “fix” on just 700,000 state employees, retirees and survivors, rather than on 9,720,000 Illinois adults. It’s a politician’s dream: deflecting blame from yourself while focusing the pain on only 7.2 percent of voters.
Obstructing this is the Illinois Constitution, which forbids impairing or diminishing state pensions. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s House bill, punishing state workers past and present, is sugarcoated with pages of verbiage amounting to the “dog ate my homework” that’s supposed to overcome constitutional challenge.
Facing Madigan’s horror, large public unions dealt with Senate President Tom Cullerton. His Senate bill hopes to overcome a constitutional challenge by forcing each individual pension plan member to choose how his/her pension will be impaired or diminished.
Agreeing not to challenge Cullerton’s bill, unions saw value in not getting into a constitutional but precedent-breaking two-tier situation whereby members suffer loss based only on future work.
Meanwhile, nobody is looking out for those already retired and their survivors. Both bills consign them to an ever-tightening financial squeeze throughout their “golden” years. This is not only unconstitutional, but immoral and shameful.
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