All we can hope for now is that the governor and Illinois legislators make an ethical and legal decision regarding their single-minded “pension reform” (as if this is the sole solution for the current state’s revenue and debt problems!). We can also hope that we will be receiving information from the Illinois Education Association’s and the Illinois Federation of Teacher’s leadership regarding an alternative, reasonable and fair plan to challenge the disastrous, unconstitutional “pension reform” bill proposed last spring by Representative Tom Cross (with intractable House Speaker Michael Madigan’s approval) and his “special interest” group, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
It is troublesome that most people and many legislators do not care whether retired teachers’ and other public employees’ defined-benefit pension plans are a fundamental source of economic stimulus to communities in Illinois and the only retirement income for hundreds of thousands of people.
These same legislators also ignore the fact that Illinois “suffers from structural deficits or from failure of revenues to grow quickly as the cost of services…, [and that] structural deficits stem largely from out-of-date tax systems, coupled with costs that rise faster than the economy… Fixing these structural problems would help [Illinois] balance [its] operating budgets without resorting to [an unconstitutional radical 'pension reform' instigated and propagandized by the Civic Committee, Civic Federation, Chicago Tribune and their ilk]” (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 2011).
What can the IEA and IFT offer by way of negotiation this spring on the issue that “something must be done!” about the public pension systems, (in particular, the teachers’ pension system), the unfunded liability, and increasing state payments? How about defending the Illinois Constitution above all else?
What can current and retired teachers (and other public employees) surrender that will barely diminish the state’s colossal financial liability created by past-and-present greed, corruption, arrogance, incompetence and self-interest? Nothing.
We can only hope that the IEA and IFT leadership has a “plan” to offer in the legislative sessions this spring, and we hear about this strategy as soon as possible. We can only hope our union leadership does not bargain away our constitutional rights and benefits.
Meanwhile, what we can do is unite with the Occupy Wall-Street Movement in Chicago and protest on South Clark Street, where the Civic Committee conducts its avaricious business practices. We can research the aforementioned subject matter ourselves, become more informed, and meet with legislators to discuss unconstitutional pension reform targeted at teachers and retirees and their families. Why is this important? Our individual and collective futures depend upon what we do or don’t do.