The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 30, 2012

Vote ‘No’ on amendment



I’m writing to encourage voters to vote “No” on Amendment 49 to the Illinois Constitution on Nov. 6.

We won’t even see the actual proposal on Election Day, because it’s so long and complex.

Instead, we’ll see a briefer “explanation” that tells us we’re being asked to make it harder to raise state pension benefits. What’s not mentioned is that we’re also being asked to open the door to reducing pension benefits for public employees.

The amendment’s final section could let state and local governments, school boards, etc., break the Constitution’s long-established protection of pensions.

Public employees faithfully contribute to pension funds, being promised that the state will do the same. The legislature has consistently undermined that promise, even robbing the pension system at times for other purposes.

Now that their irresponsibility has created chaos, they’re scrambling to find ways to strip workers’ retirement benefits — exactly what the Illinois Constitution was designed to prohibit.

Read the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on the proposed amendment, and you’ll see how confusing its language is; that’s already led to one suit to throw the proposal off the ballot.

Getting the amendment on the ballot is estimated to have cost $70 million, an expense Illinois can ill afford.

Fixing it in the future would likely require another expensive amendment process. Help avoid this — vote “No.”

Susan K. Appel