The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 10, 2013

Fix the state’s pensions


DANVILLE — Editor:

For decades, Springfield funded chronic overspending by shorting or skipping pension contributions. Now they misdirect blame onto participants of state pension systems to grease the politically easiest “fix.”

This faces two basic obstacles: unions and that pesky constitution clause mandating state pensions be neither impaired nor diminished. Unions, shaken after the Wisconsin smackdown, have agreed not to challenge Senate President Cullerton’s plan, which steals less from them than does House Speaker Madigan’s.

Governor Quinn and also the Republican leadership favor Madigan’s plan. Though patently unconstitutional, it brazenly steals several times more pension money than Cullerton’s, dangling a “fix” sufficient for now, requiring just one extremely indefensible vote. Madigan hopes to hornswoggle the Supreme Court by including verbiage claiming a crisis so dire no solution exists but to violate the constitution.

The crisis results from decades of Springfield mismanagement, cowardice and corruption, conducted largely under Madigan’s watchful eye. How does that justify violating constitutionally guaranteed promises to hundreds of thousands, many of whom are now helplessly retired?

Springfield has other options, should it have any guts. Casino licenses and tax terms granted favored insiders have, over decades, cost Illinois many billions of foregone revenue, compared to their fair market value, much less what the Canadian gambling model would bring in. This ongoing, atrocious sellout of the taxpayers could end. Many programs, agencies and commissions could be seriously pruned or eliminated without harm to proper government, saving more billions.

The day of reckoning has come. What a sorry state we’re in.

Lynn McLinden