Teachers being unfairly targeted
June 7, 2012 9:06PM
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:21AM
I am a retired teacher who is working at Jewel-Osco to supplement my pension, and I want to give my thoughts on pension reform for teachers.
Our state faces many budget problems, some of which could have been avoided by better management, and some caused by national and global crises we can’t avoid. But in a democracy, the cost of solving our problems should be borne fairly by all citizens rather than requiring a disproportionate sacrifice by one group, such as Illinois’ teachers.
The Teachers’ Retirement System is underfunded because the Legislature over many years did not fully make its contractual contribution to the fund. Missed payments were never repaid. Now, the governor and legislative leaders seek major changes to reduce benefits, even for those who are retired and who faithfully paid their share of the cost during their working years.
The TRS fund is not a piggy bank for the Legislature. Many Illinois citizens benefited from programs paid for by “borrowing” from this pension fund, and it’s unfair to expect teachers alone to pay for making things right.
Likewise, shifting the state’s responsibility for making TRS contributions to local school districts is just another way to shirk responsibility, and it’s not as if the school districts have lots of extra money lying around. They would be forced to raise the already-high real estate tax and/or eliminate staff and programs.
State government must learn to live within a budget. So much of our current mess could have been avoided if legislators had reduced state spending to fit available funds. Has our state government learned anything about fiscal responsibility from what’s happening in the rest of the world? Apparently not.
Sox need to lower prices overall
Regarding the June 1 story on poor attendance at White Sox games despite the team’s promising start this season, one of the main reasons is high ticket prices. White Sox management attempts to spin the problem by referring to its new policy of “dynamic pricing” of tickets and “charging what the market will bear.”
Well, the ticket pricing may be “dynamic,” but the market does not seem to bear it very well. The costs for tickets, parking and concessions explains why a family of four is relegated to watching the games on TV.
Although costs are high for operating the stadium and the general expenses
of the team, the heart of the problem is the huge payroll of multimillion-dollar ballplayers, too many of whom do not earn their salaries in playing a boys’ game.
I believe that it is better to have a full stadium at $5 to $10 a ticket than a mostly empty one. Perhaps lowering the cost of a hot dog and the like would assist as well. The $5 charge for upper deck seats at games the week is a start. Perhaps the wakeup call is being heard?