Most Illinois voters might be surprised by their ballot when they vote next month – but they’ll be shocked by the consequences if it passes. Proposed Constitutional Amendment 49 “adding Sec. 5.1 to Article XIII,” claims to address the state’s pension obligations.
First, given the shortfall of more than $80 billion in Illinois’ five pension plans, voters should ask how a new Sec. 5.1 would deal with the money the state owes those pensions. It does nothing.
Most Illinoisans seem torn between anger about state pensioners supposedly getting rich off taxpayers, and concern about state-worker neighbors caught between incompetent lawmakers and greedy credit agencies in cahoots with big banks. The real debate should be one timid types in Springfield (or Washington) avoid: What do citizens want government to do and how will it be funded?
Standard & Poor's downgraded Illinois' credit rating Wednesday, citing concerns over the state's inability to address its massively underfunded employee pension plans.
The action was taken less than two weeks after a special session in which Illinois lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on changing the state pension systems. Illinois still ranks 49th among the states, better only than California.
Republican Illinois State Senate candidate Randy Frese of Paloma said the state's pension problems are a sign of broken government, which he said was caused by a lack of leadership.
Frese said the pension reform program in Rhode Island could serve as a template for Illinois. He said Rhode Island raised the retirement age, froze the cost of living adjustment (COLA), and implemented a 401K style plan. Frese said the state did so long before it got into a financial hole as deep as the one in Illinois.