Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dear Illinois Representative and Senator by John Dillon

Well, the Chicago Tribune is at it again, trying to find some way to fuel an irrational and emotive fire under you and your presence in Springfield on August 17th to pass a form of HB1447 without really thinking about the legal complexities, disregarding the legal costs/outcomes, and including additional state pension systems to what was originally an anemic house bill. 

I am reminded of the lines from “A Christmas Story” when the young and foolish narrator explains the intricacies of trying to avoid the consequences of a escaping the critical double-dog–dare-you.   The Tribune says that you will pass the lesser form of HB1447 because you will be thinking  - and these are their words:  “We are trying to cover our fannies in an election year by telling you we drove to Springfield and fixed this pension mess you voters kept telling us to fix” (Reform Lite? Not Enough. Chicago Tribune. 10 August 2012).  

Maybe you should think about the following, more rational points instead of the Tribune’s constant and strident blaring:

·      HB1447 will constitute a necessary legal battle over Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution.  Do you want to include all the other public unions in what will become a pitched battle?

·      The Tribune loves to talk about the impossibility of paying the $83 billion to the public pension groups.  Of course, that’s a specious way of ignoring that the real annual payment is much less – $800 million for TRS – in a year.  They exploit the public’s fear, but real answers would come in restructuring the debt service of the $83 billion the state owes TRS and the other four pension systems.  Why not ask that question?  Why not start there?

·      The Tribune tells you that offering a choice between healthcare and a COLA is an acceptable manner of reducing costs promised for both items.  This would not be “consideration or choice” in any court.  It is simply coercion. 

·      The Tribune also warns that not including all the public workers (SERS, GARS, JRS, TRS, and SURS) will leave “Illinois saddled.”  In fact, the Tribune reminds us that these items, if passed, would only be “a baby step up Mount Kilimanjaro.”  As long as the General Assembly holds to the ridiculous 1995 ramp-up for bills unpaid to public employees over the last 60 years, there will never be enough to satisfy the problem.  A different form of revenue stream needs to be looked at, a stream that allows for $Billions more in state revenue – a graduated tax system.  That will take serious forward thinking and the kind of statesmanship not seen by the people in this state for some time – maybe after election?

·      Will the General Assembly dissemble the economic machine that provides nearly $4.5 billion in purchasing in the State of Illinois by cutting benefits?  Do you believe that significant cuts to the economic operation will assist in the recovery of the economy?

·      Finally, the Tribune warns that “Incumbents don’t want to inflame the influential blocs of voters…”  We have given our honest industry and energy to the betterment of this state in order to make it a better place to live.  We have forgone Social Security and done what was asked and demanded, and more.  You think we’re not already inflamed?


John Dillon

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