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?
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.
Conservative estimates indicate Illinois is $83 billion short of what it has promised state workers in retirement benefits. But Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability said said there is nothing inherently wrong with the state's pension plans.
He said the problem is that for 40 years the state “borrowed like a credit card” from pensions to pay for other services. But instead of acknowledging that, state leaders and lawmakers have played politics with the issue.