Reeder: Still awaiting Quinn’s pension reform plan
By Scott Reeder Guest Commentaryfirstname.lastname@example.org December 26, 2012 6:54PM
Updated: January 28, 2013 3:37PM
Where’s the plan, Pat?
I mean come on, governor, you’ve been talking a good game about solving the state’s rather profound problem of a roughly $96 billion long-term shortfall in its five pension funds. But we don’t know how you want to solve it.
We’ve seen the goofy video you put out with “Squeezy the Pension Python.” We’ve heard you say you were “put on this earth” to solve the pension crisis.
Could that be some of that trademark Pat Quinn hyperbole?
Or should we take it as a sign of your earnest desire to tackle a tough issue?
Regardless, we don’t know what you want to do because we haven’t seen any legislation.
After four years in office, you have yet to provide a detailed proposal for how to reform the state’s pension system, which has a huge deficit that you’ve said grows about $17 million per day.
Oh, sure, there have been press releases and bullet-point presentations, but nothing detailed enough to present to the Legislature as your solution.
You say it needs to be done. We wait and wait for the details of your plan. There is a plan, right?
As you know, governor, under new accounting standards, the five pension funds are going to be underfunded to the tune of approximately $200 billion.
Illinois has the worst-funded pension systems of any state in the nation. And yet, governor, none of your friends in the Legislature have introduced a pension reform bill on your behalf.
In fact, governor, you told us in November that you expected pension reform to happen by Jan. 9. That’s just a few days away, and we still haven’t heard your plan.
Do you have one? Please speak up.
Illinoisans are well aware of the perils that a lame-duck session of the General Assembly, such as the one that starts Wednesday, can bring.
It was almost two years ago when another lame-duck Legislature did your bidding and raised the state income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.
Although we were told the new revenue would go toward “paying bills,” almost every dime of that tax increase was dumped into the failing pension system.
That’s the equivalent of trying to keep a leaky bucket full by continually pouring water into it.
Somewhere along the line some major repairs need to be made.
Governor, you’ve said the pension system needs to be fixed so that money can be freed for other state government programs.
Here’s an idea: How about fixing the pension system and lowering taxes so that ordinary Illinoisans can save for their retirements and their children’s college educations?
The 67 percent tax hike equates to the government confiscating a whole week of pay from every working Illinoisan.
People work hard for their money. No one wants to see it get dumped into a failing pension system.
And yet that’s what’s happening.
Governor, the taxpayers of Illinois deserve to see your pension reform legislation.
Would you please speak up and tell us what you want?
Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist-in-residence at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group that supports the free market and limited government.