Forum: Pension reform a deliberate distraction
July 2, 2013 10:52PM
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:37AM
The continuing talk about state “pension reform” is a ploy used by politicians to distract us from their general mismanagement of the state budget. For too many years, budgets were passed with unrealistic cost/revenue projections, leading to monetary shortfalls in most, if not all, state programs.
As established, the pension program for state employees and teachers was designed to be self-supporting, and it would be if the state had made its contributions as called for in each year’s operating budget. But to help offset yearly deficits, the Legislature chose to “postpone” payments to the pension plans.
This has gone on for so long that there is no hope that the state budget will ever have enough surplus to allow repayment. The purpose of “pension reform” is to help lessen this debt, which is an embarrassing reminder of the Legislature’s inability to function under a balanced budget. The state government must concentrate on paying for existing obligations.
While it’s widely acknowledged that the state reallocated billions of dollars owed to its pension funds, instead of demanding legislative responsibility for this crisis the popular view seems to be to accuse state employees and teachers of greedily wanting salaries and pensions that are too generous and too costly.
The two major pension reform bills being considered want to reduce benefits to current and retired employees and teachers by varying degrees. But there’s no mention of making the state’s pension contributions mandatory so this mess does not happen again.
Let your state representative and senator know that you expect them to ensure that each and every program and line item in the state budget is properly funded or benefits reduced to stay within available funding.
Kenneth J. Pytlik
Ash tree policy unfair
In many of the newer areas of Tinley Park, such as the Brookside Glen subdivision, thousands of ash trees were planted in the parkways. Given that since 2002 the emerald ash borer was a known threat, this was irresponsible.
The village board has voted that only ash trees of 16’’ diameter will be removed, and the rest will be uncut and untreated. In time, there will be withering and dead ash trees lining the streets. One does not need much imagination to visualize this desultory, depressing scene.
To only remove the larger trees and not treat nor cut down the rest and replace them is not fair or equitable. In essence, Tinley Park irresponsibly planted the trees and now the individual homeowners are stuck with the problem.
Tinley Park officials report that all ash trees in the village are diseased in various stages. The village board should vote on this issue again and do justice to all homeowners with ash trees and not just those who have the larger trees.
Marie E. Roman