To the Editor:
As the Illinois General Assembly stumbles toward a solution for the mess it has made of the state’s pension system, it is no surprise that our legislators have avoided the most important element necessary for a successful and lasting outcome – the need to reform the General Assembly.
The current pension system was based on a concession made by state employees years ago to bail the state out of yet another fiscal mess. In this previous “pension reform,” employees agreed to Illinois pulling out of the Social Security System in return for an enhanced pension. The state saved a lot of money by not having to pay the employer’s share of social security. Unfortunately, they “saved” even more money by not putting the employer’s share into their own pension system.
The hogwash about pension reform is a smoke screen to take the focus away from the real problem, which is a state legislature that is corrupt, irresponsible and incompetent. If the members of the General Assembly had taken their fiscal responsibilities seriously, we wouldn’t be in this mess. If they had paid into the pension funds every year as our state constitution requires them to do, there would be no pension crisis, no underfunding.
Our legislators have dug us into a fiscal pit, and the only solutions they are offering seek to blame the victims. State employees did not create this mess, the General Assembly did. Once we have “pension reform,” what is to keep our legislature years down the road from reneging on this deal?
No pension reform will ever work until we have a legislature that operates with integrity. Isn’t it long past time we talked seriously about reforming our General Assembly? Let’s solve this crisis at its core. No pension reform without legislature reform.