Support pension proposal

Vote 'yes' on Amendment 49 to the Illinois Constitution.

While Illinois legislators have been extremely reluctant to make big decisions about the state's financially troubled public pension systems, they're offering voters the opportunity in the Nov. 6 election to make a small one.

Amendment 49 will be added to the Illinois Constitution if it is approved.

The proposed amendment would require a three-fifths vote, compared to a simple majority, by the Legislature as well as local governmental bodies like school boards and city councils, to increase retirement benefits for public employees.

The News-Gazette, not without reservation, recommends a "yes" vote on this proposal. In our view, the proposed three-fifths requirement represents a stronger safeguard against further manipulations of the state's public pensions that threaten the systems' financial viability.

It also would send a message from the voters to their elected representatives in Springfield that the public is aware of the state's pension problems and wants steps taken to address them.

Conversely, a "no" vote could be interpreted by Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators as indifference or even opposition to making the kind of tough decisions that will be necessary to eliminate the pensions' collective underfunding of $80 billion-plus.

The questions that have been raised about the amendment do not concern the merits of the proposal — the three-fifths requirement — but instead focus on a suggested hidden meaning.

Some claim the amendment's wording, specifically its final paragraph, might provide the legal grounds to repeal Article XIII, Section 5 — the constitutional provision that guarantees pension benefits, once earned, cannot be reduced. Critics suggest that with Amendment 49 in place, state legislators could solve state pension problems by reducing pensions benefits for current workers or retirees.

Although we understand the fears and concerns of members of the state's pension systems, we do not read the language in the manner the critics suggest.

The disputed provision states:

"Nothing in this section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law, ordinance, resolution, rule, policy or practice that further restricts the ability to provide a 'benefit increase,' 'emolument increase,' or 'beneficial determination,' as those terms are used under this section."

Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, the chief sponsor of the amendment, said that provision was added to the amendment to make it clear to governmental bodies that their ability to grant salary increases would not be restricted.

There is no question that Illinois has big problems with its public pension systems. This amendment won't do much to solve them. But it's a small step in the right direction, and, therefore, worth voter support.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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pattsi wrote on October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

To quote one of our top elected Illinois officials, "if you can not understand something, then do not vote for it." The concensus is that even the attorneys do not understand the proposed amendment whether the long form or the short form.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

pattsi;  Thank you.  The proposed amendment makes no sense.  It is written in a manner that can be construed differently later when addressing the opposite of the supposed present intention of the amendment.  Of course, the News Gazette is pushing for a "yes" vote on the amendment.  When has the News Gazette ever spoke in favor of the retired public service employees?  This amendment does not only affect state, and university employees.  It affects all municipal employees also.  It affects teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, park district employees, state employees, and university employees.  It affects anyone who receives a public pension, or pays into a public pension.  Do not be fooled by the propaganda from conservative, corporate media.  This amendment is "the camel's nose under the tent".  If they wanted you to understand it, it would have been written clearly.  Vote "NO" on this piece of deception.

job wrote on October 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I guess this means we need to pass it to know what it means or "what's in it?"  That hasn't worked well for us so far.  An amendment to the Illinois constitution must be clear and must do more than be a "small step in the right direction." The legislature has disregarded inconvenient parts of the current constitution consistently.  This amendment will  not provide needed changes, and will not make the legislature act responsibly,   Vote No.

nick wrote on October 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

The News-Gazette editors have misinterpreted the intention of this proposal.It is step one in the campaign to repeal Article VIII,Secton 5. It will begin the process to take away earned pensions from public employees.A spokesman for the Illinois Republican caucus admitted this intention on a radio program in Chicago. He did some backtracking and spinning a few minutes later but the intent was clearly stated. This editorial is weak because the Gazette and every person who has followed this issue knows that this initiative is the fast track end to public pensions in Illinois and will reduce or destroy the earned pensions of public employees. I would have much more respect for the News-Gazette editorial writers if they would just write that public pensions should be taken away and public employees should be abandoned.That viewpoint is what you believe...just write it.Over the last thirty years,as the politicians re-directed the money that should have gone into the pensions into corporate projects, the News-Gazette never wrote one paragraph on the editorial page that objected to the illegal manipulation of pension funds.Now we see editorials from the NG that insist that workers must now pay for the abuse of politicians,bankers,corporations and the organizations that represent wealth. They have slowly been stealing the pensions for years,now when everyone can see the disaster, the NG implores us to give up what is left as fast as possible.


 

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Thank you, Nick.  You summed it up.

bluegrass wrote on October 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

"Now we see editorials from the NG that insist that workers must now pay for the abuse of politicians,bankers,corporations and the organizations that represent wealth. They have slowly been stealing the pensions for years,..."

​What do bankers, corporations, and organizations that represent wealth have to do with any of this?  Furthermore, could you define an "organization that represents wealth?"  

Here's the deal, it isn't the resonsibility of the News Gazette to make sure that the politicians fund your pension fund.  You know whose reponsibility it is?  Wait for it.... It's YOURS.  It is the responsibility of the owners of the pension fund to be the watchdogs.  And do you know who the biggest contributors to the election campaigns of the very democrats who failed to fund these funds are?  They, are YOU!!  It is the unions in this state and nation that are far and away the largest contributors to democrats.  All the spending that has taken place in this state over the past 40 years has been done with the stamp of the party of democrats, save 2 very short years.  So here is my recomendation to you people who are worried about your pensions.  Stop blaming corporations, and "organizations that represent wealth," and Mitt Romney's binder, and Big Bird, and occupations, and the News Gazette editorial pages, and cheap ammunition, and global warming.  Start going to the leaders in your own unions who are taking your money and giving it to politicians who are not funding your pensions, and hold them all accountable.  Your democrat party is in complete control of Illinois government.  Wasting time complaining about any republican or newspaper does you absolutely no good at all.  In fact, if you were to go into your backyard right now and pound sand for 2 hours, that would actually do you more good than complaining about republicans in IL government.  You must hold the people that you elect accountable.  That means Too Tall Frerichs, Naomi Jakobbssbsson, Dum Dum Quinn, the Puppetmaster Madigan, and the rest of the political Dodo bird dems who mill around Springfield talking in circles and spending billions.  Vent your frustrations on the people who are $@##@ you over.  Use your head.

 

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Your right wing rant is not based on facts.  You claim that every state, and university employee is pro-Democrat which is absurdly untrue.  You claim that all state, and university employees are pro-union, and contribute to the campaign funds of Democrats.  Again, that is untrue.  The majority of state, and university employees are fair share union members.  Union dues do not go to political campaigns unless designated by the member.  Politicians of both parties have skipped the employer payment into the pension systems while the employees have not skipped a single payment.  Employees do not get to elect the entire board of their pension system.  In my case, Judy Barr Topinka was "appointed" to head up SERS.  Do you honestly think that I jump up, and down with glee because Judy Barr Topinka has say so about where my pension is invested?  Why do you think Blago was working a deal to put his people in charge of TRS?  Who do you think is backing the news media propaganda, the Chicago Civic Federation, the Chicago Commercial Club, the Illinois Policy Institute, the State of Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and the legislators?  Bondholders are not the little guys.  Corporations worried about corporate tax increases to pay for state debts are not the little guys.

Your either misguided, or delusional.  You resort to blaming the victims of theft instead of the thieves.

You as an Illinois citizen, and taxpayer are responsible for funding our pensions along with us.  Your, and my taxes may go up; but we will pay the debt owed to my pension.  Contract law will see to that if nothing else.

Youroutandyuoruglytoo wrote on October 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm

What kind of pressue is the News Gazette under to publish in support of another sneaking underhanded way the crooked politions go about doing things supposidly for the people? No, NO, NOOOO! Vote no on this!!!

bluegrass wrote on October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am

Ahhh..  I am misguided or delusional.  More compelling arguments from the left. 


I do blame government employee unions for not holding their representatives accountable.  I also blame the policiticans in control of the system who have consistently underfunded the pension system.  In Illinois those policitians are democrats, and yes, I blame them.  I want to hold them accountable.  Democrat voters in this town most affected by the pension system debacle, that is to say U of I employees, faculty and staff, live mainly in areas where they keep on electing the likes of Mike Frerichs and Naomi Jakobbssson, who have shown no leadership at all on the pension funding issue.   


Could you point out to my where I wrote that every state or U of I employee is a democrat?  Could you point out exactly where I wrote that all union members give money to democrats?  Could you also then, go to the attached website link and review the amount of money given by labor split between democrats and republicans, and explain to my why it is delusional to believe that that big, organized labor favors the democrats?  When you see the attached report, you'll notice a tiny little line in the middle that is red.  That represents money given to republicans, likely in races where they are running unopposed. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Read your comments of 2 days, 22 hours ago.  You painted us all with a big brush as supporting Democrats.

Again, your stuck with the two parties.  Did it ever cross your mind that we may vote for candidtes from both parties?  That is how we tried to hold the legislature responsible.  I was of the opinion several times over the years that we should have called a strike statewide.  However, the majority of state, and university employees would never do that for a multitude of reasons.  I was there when we marched in Springfield; and got our first contract from Thompson.  We thought that would protect us by unionizing.  It did not.  Now, I try to hold candidates, and incumbents responsible by shaming them in public, or in the media.  I would follow Chad Hayes to Hades carrying a sign if I thought it would keep him from getting re-elected.  I would do the same for Quinn. 

I am sick, and tired of the cheap crooks that this state keeps electing.  We would be better off without any legislature, or governor in this state.  Revert back to a territory if it would stop the corruption. 

bluegrass wrote on October 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

Still pounding the perverbial sand by holding Chad Hayes responsible for your pension problems. 


  It does cross my mind that some union members vote for candidates from both parties.  But 90% of the money that is given to candidates from unions goes to democrats.  The vast majority of union members vote for democrats.  Is that really up for debate?


Just because you marched somewhere in Springfield, and Political Observer supposedly sponsored legislation in the IL Senate, doesn't make what you're saying any more true.  I'm pretty sure that Naomi Jakobbsson has marched around Springfield, and has sponsored legislation, and, well, I think we all know where this is going.


And by the way, it's not possible for me to go back into time and see which of my posts was 2 days and 22 hours old when you looked at it.  For one, as despite Kip's claim that time travel is "easy," Napolean and Uncle Rico proved that it is in fact, not possible with today's technology.  Yes, I could do the math, but I'm bored already with this whole conversation...

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

You don't bother to read your own comments made earlier in the same article.  Your "bored already with this whole conversation".  So why did you comment now?   If you want a one sided conversation, get a dog. 

Political Observer wrote on October 22, 2012 at 2:10 am

     Thanks for your out-of-tune singing, Bluegrass!  You did an excellent job of showing how little you know about the underfunding of the state pension system, with your right-wing knee-jerk tendency to blame the CURRENT people who are trying to deal with the problem, when the problem was aggravated way back in the 1980s when REPUBLICAN Governor Jim Thompson acted on the advice of his REPUBLICAN Budget Director, Robert Mandeville, and reduced the state’s contribution to the pension system from 100% of payout in 1980 to 70% in 1982 to 60% in 1983, and eventually down to 45% of payout.  You can read about it right here:

--------------------------------------------------

http://www.lib.niu.edu/1987/ii871006.html

     Illinois' pension funding has been complicated by inconsistent state funding. Until 1980 Illinois had appropriated annually to the five pension systems the amount actually paid out. That enabled pension systems to invest employee contributions. Then in the 1982 fiscal year Illinois reduced its contribution from 100 to 70 percent of payout and the next year to 60 percent. This year Gov. James R. Thompson proposed, even with $1.1 billion in new taxes, to hold pension funding at the same dollar or percentage amounts as in fiscal 1987, reducing the overall funding below 60 percent of payout. When Thompson's tax hike faltered, he cut another $75 million from pension funding, dropping the level to 45 percent of payout.

 -------------------------------------------------------------

     And guess who was warning people about the theft of pension funds by Thompson and Edgar back when it was actually happening?  The main person was Dawn Clark Netsch, the DEMOCRATIC  State Comptroller.  She even ran against Edgar for Governor in 1994, advocating an income tax increase to help raise the revenue that the state needed to deal with its problems.

     Naturally, she lost in a huge landslide, because the slimeball Jim Edgar said that no tax increase was necessary (so she lost just like Walter Mondale did when he tried to tell Reagan that he needed to raise taxes in 1984).  So you see, Mr. Bluegrass, scumbag Republicans won elections by lying (or being stupid) and saying, “Vote for me, and you won’t need to raise taxes!” and that’s where the problems came from…

---------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.lib.niu.edu/1993/im930215.html

Illinois has been noteworthy on two pension fronts: its outright failure to adhere to pension funding levels established in legislation (Senate Bill 95) which I sponsored as a state senator in 1989, and Gov. Edgar's transfer last year of $21 million from a fund earmarked for state employee pensions into the General Revenue Fund.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------

     It wasn't until part way through George Ryan's term that a system was finally put in place to stop massively increasing the pension debt...(And Rod B. later dipped back into the pension system rather than raise taxes, following the Thompson-Edgar lead, at a time when it was a really bad budget year...By that time, anyone who did the right thing and raised taxes was signing his own death warrant...thanks to the right-wingers like you...)

bluegrass wrote on October 22, 2012 at 10:10 am

I don't know the details of your writigin about Thompson, so I'll assume all of it is true.


However, I've written about how it was Jim Edgar and the only republican controlled Illinois House in the past 40 years who passed legislation that was slowly bringing funding up to manageable levels over time, and in fact brought it up to the highest levels in 50 years.  Then, just a few short years after Madigan regained his control of the House, and Blago got into office, that legislation was summarily ignored and the state went back to the same old business of ignoring the problem.  But it does no good to actually tell the truth on these message boards, because despite the fact that Mike Madigan and the left wing Chicago machine has had a stranglehold on the pursestrings of this state for 38 of the past 40 years, we still get to read postings about Dawn Clark Netsch and Walter Mondale. 


If you simply go to page 11 of the attached report from 2006, you will see that as a result of the legislation passed by a republican controlled house, and signed off on by a Gov. Edgar, to whom you so eloquently describe as a "slimeball," you might see that funding levels were increasing over time to a a high of almost 75%.  Perhaps if dems might have elected Dawn Clark Netsch we might have avoided what followed.


And we also get get read worthless comments where, since you can't wing arguments with facts you resort to calling names like slimeball, stupid, scumbag.  Very compelling arguments, indeed. 


 

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Your knowledge of recent state history (the last 40 years) is woefully lacking.  You pick, and choose which segments to comment on.  Try reading it in it's totality.  You will get a better understanding if you choose to accept the truth.

Political Observer wrote on October 30, 2012 at 12:10 am

Bluegrass,

Your hero, Jim Edgar, was Jim Thompson’s Secretary of State, and he was a big money-raiser for Thompson.  State of Illinois employees in those days, if they wanted to keep their jobs, had to buy tickets for Thompson fund-raisers from Edgar.  It was a system of compulsory fund-raising, where the “donations” were collected by Edgar and passed on to Thompson.   Moreover, this system continued when Edgar became Governor.  Edgar chose George Ryan as his Secretary of State, and the corrupt felon Ryan collected “donations” for Edgar.  This, in fact, is when the Bribes for Driver’s Licenses Scandal occurred, which is one of the things that sent George Ryan to prison.  (And, by the way, Rodney Davis, who hopefully will fail in his effort to be the replacement for Tim Johnson, was right in the middle of all this, working for the corrupt felon Ryan in the Secretary of State’s Office right when the Bribes for  Driver’s Licenses Scandal was going on…even though his disreputable campaign spokespeople put out dishonest statements to try to distract and mislead voters about what went on, and thereby try to hide the truth about poor little "victimized" Rodney.)

Anyway, here’s what Jim Edgar says about what was going on, back in the days when he was the Secretary of State for Gov. Jim Thompson:

--------------------------------------------

http://www2.illinois.gov/alplm/.../edgarjim/edgar_jim_4fnl_vol%20iii.pdf

 

DePue: How about pension payments?

Jim Edgar Interview # ISG-A-L-2009-019 VOL III

554

Edgar: There were no pension payments going into the pension fund because the

Thompson administration didn’t believe in that. They just paid what you had to pay

coming out. And everybody got their pension. Nobody, that I know of, has ever not

got their pension paid. The problem is we’re not putting into the fund that we’re

taking that pension payment out. But [Bob] Mandeville, who was the head of the

Bureau of the Budget—his philosophy was that really was a waste of taxpayers’

money, to tie it up there, as long as we had enough to pay when it became due.

That’s what got the hole going on the pension stuff.

----------------------------------------------------------

Finally, if  you still think that Edgar is a good guy, you might want to do a websearch  by copying and pasting  the search  phrase below into your search engine:

"Management Services of Illinois" "Jim Edgar"

 

asparagus wrote on October 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Very well said, and quite colorfully said as well.  I too share your frustration with folks on the left that continue this rhetoric that every Republican is a "Boss Hog" in disguise.   It is just so tiresome.  One wishes they even cared to open their eyes even a little bit to really see what has been going on in this state.

I want all public employee retirees to receive their pensions in full as promised.  I want the pension system to be financially reformed for the future and run in a responsible manner free of political graft and highly questionable union influences. 

The rampant corruption in Springfield and Chicago has got to be brought under control.  I'm sure that Republicans contribute to this as well but they have not been the dominant party in control.

As long as the left continues to support status quo, and continuous to blame the usual suspects (which is what you have all been trained to do by design) ad nauseum, we have no hope of ever ending this mess.

Seriously folks, you just come off sounding ignorant and childish anymore with this relentless diatribe against the one percent blah blah blah ... get a clue, please.

 

bmwest wrote on October 19, 2012 at 9:10 pm
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I don't see how a 10% increase in the number of required votes will help. As I understand it, benefit increases have traditionally received nearly unanimous bipartisan support.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

bmwest;  You make a good point.  Those benefit increases were for some top dogs which make the news headlines; not the front line employees.  If the amendment is to be taken at face value; it means that Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, Tom Cross, and others cannot prevent pension benefit increases for the top dogs without a greater number of required votes.  Does any one who knows Illinois politics believe that?

Bulldogmojo wrote on October 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Legislators are trying to get out from under making the pension payments they have already illegally reneged on and that is all this is about in part or on the whole.

I'm in the self managed plan and the state made all of its payments into it because no company including TIAA-Cref who my pension is with would be STUPID enough to accept a pension holiday and allow an IOU from a customer (State of Illinois) in place of making contractual payments. Funny thing about pension money, all the private sector rules apply to the outcome and the public sector will not be exempt from a dreary outcome if they allow this avoidance of pension obligation to continue.

As Samuel L. Jackson says "Wake the ____ Up!"

EL YATIRI wrote on October 23, 2012 at 7:10 am
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The NG is not to be trusted.  It has a neocon/teatard, GOP bias and disrespect for the truth.  If the NG endorses anything my reaction is to scrutinize the issue very skeptically.  Usually it turns out that the NG has dissembled and manipulated for partisan and ideological reasons.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

Oh my.   The News Gazette is the only newspaper in the area.   I am sure that it has expressed alternate .......................well, come to think of it.   It has not.   Do you think it is due to the ownership?   Do you think all of the staff are GOP biased; or do they write as they are told.   The State Journal Register, the only newspaper in Springfield, was much in the style of the News Gazette.  Recently, their staff unionized.  Their opinions, and editorials are more balanced now.   They are even criticized by their conservative readers as being Liberal when they write moderate opinions.   Perhaps, times will change the News Gazette also.

John Beck wrote on October 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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Uh, Sid, our newsroom staff has been unionized since 1975; our printers and pressmen long before that.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I stand corrected.  Please answer why your opinions, and editorials are slanted against public employees pensions, unions, and the Democratic party.  It is obvious not to just me; but also to the majority of your readership.  Your support for Amendment 49 is just the latest example.  What is the motivation for the one sided views?

Perhaps, the other readers might have similar questions?