Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Voting for Patrick Quinn or Bruce Rauner in Illinois: A Lose-Lose Scenario

Are we going to continue our connivance with the corrupt political system of Illinois where public employee unions can endorse a governor who does not care about breaking a constitutional contract with retirees and public employees, a governor who will challenge the State Constitution again if he is re-elected (when the pension theft reform bill is not upheld); a governor who indicated he will shift the State’s contributions to our retirement accounts from the State to local school districts with his “No, not right now” blunt retort to a question asked by the IEA President Cinda Klickna at the April 14, 2014 forum?  

Moreover, will Quinn stop cutting money for core service areas (health care, education, human services and public safety) if he is re-elected? Will he address the State pensions’ unfunded liability, the faulty pension ramp, and the State’s flawed, unfair tax policy if elected? Will he stop corporate welfare? We all know the answers to these questions.

Should we continue to deceive ourselves in believing Quinn is “the lesser of two evils,” and we have no choice because Rauner is a more repugnant choice (and of course he is, and he is as objectionable as the Quinn/Vallas dual!)? We should know the answers to these two questions.

So why do we continue to perpetuate a dishonest political system that continues to destroy our representative democracy? Why aren’t we fighting against political hypocrisy and depravity in Illinois? Why aren’t we challenging the Democratic/Republican One-Party Money System, this fraudulence that continues to compel public employee unions to donate, and to waste, large sums of union membership’s money in order to compete in the State’s plutocratic circus of corruption? Do you remember the recent Dillard fiasco that cost four million dollars?

If we vote for Quinn and he is re-elected, he will sign the next pension theft reform bill that will impair and diminish public employees' pensions. He will do this with the same glee and with the acquiescence and mutual assent of our beleaguered union leadership to alter retirees’ and public employees’ contractual rights and benefits (even though there are thousands of non-union retirees! Do you remember SB 2404?).

Furthermore, Madigan and Quinn might shift the State’s contributions to local school districts, thus, neutralizing teachers’ collective bargaining rights (again) because most school districts will not have enough money to pay for anything except teachers’ retirement plans, and cash-strapped districts will not be able to pay retirement contributions at all without raising property taxes. (Don't forget Quinn signed the union-backed Senate Bill 7 which boasted anti-union attacks on collective bargaining, tenure, and teacher evaluation, to name just a few).

If we vote for Rauner and he is re-elected, he will attempt to destroy collective bargaining rights for teachers; he will sign into law a hybrid 401 (k) plan for (new?) teachers (if Madigan and Cullerton approve!); he will promote merit pay for teachers, create more charter schools, and rollback the State income tax… 

Moreover, will Rauner modernize the state’s antiquated, unfair tax policy and, thus, address the state’s structural deficit? Will he increase contributions to core services? Does he have a plan to address the State pensions’ unfunded liability and faulty pension ramp?  Of course not. Like Quinn, he has no plans.

When Rauner reiterates his platitude, “We need to make the economy grow in Illinois,” he means more Edge Tax Credits and other lucrative tax breaks and loopholes for businesses, more allocation of taxable income for corporations, and more corporate use of offshore tax havens for himself and his billionaire and millionaire associates...

What is evident is that both candidates care less about working-class people they are supposed to represent; both candidates care less about solving the state’s most important problems. 

Here's a metaphor to ponder:

There are three legs of the sturdy chair we call the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois. Each leg is considerably important for the stability of the Teachers Retirement System.  Investments and returns comprise its first leg; teachers’ contributions secure its second leg; the State’s “normal” contributions support its third leg.

Quinn or Rauner will weaken the stability (or legs) of the Teachers Retirement System. We cannot allow another election between two awful candidates like Quinn and Rauner four years from now. The unions’ leadership, and their membership, must prevent this catastrophe from ever happening again.


  1. Agreed! But what are you doing this election? Just staying home does not send a message. Is there a write-in candidate movement? Does that option even exist in IL anymore?

    1. The Democratic Party made sure there would be no third party candidate. That third party candidate (Scott Summers from the Green Party) supported: restoring the funding of public education to the full foundational level, fully funding public pensions and the repeal of the unconstitutional pension theft of SB 1, abolishing the State Charter School Commission, stopping the privatization of public education, fixing the state’s structural deficit and revenue shortfall through a fair tax with lower rates for lower income levels and higher rates for higher income levels, ending tax giveaways to already profitable corporations and creating a financial transaction tax.

      Vote your conscience this election; reread the last two sentences of this blog post and prepare for 2018.

    2. Scott Summers here. Yes, Cyn A-K, it's possible to vote your conscience, as Glen suggests. Sheldon Shafer (Green Party secretary of state candidate) and I have filed declarations of intent to be write-in candidates this year in about two dozen counties (generally speaking, the most populous ones.)
      Questions? Email me: Info(at) SummersForGovernor(dot)org.

  2. Glen,
    The Supreme Court of Illinois has already pretty much told the State/City that the constitutionality of the pension benefits stands in our favor. Justice Ann Burke's only descent was relating to guaranteed healthcare benefits. The Annuitants and Teachers who are in the Defined Benefit Plan are covered by the shall not be diminished clause. I have government attys and former Judges that are friends tell me that the State of Illinois position is a loser. They are members of pension funds like ours and have studied the issues and are very confident that the latest ruling was a statement to the legislators to stop it.

  3. Re: Shifting the “Normal Costs” to the Pension System to Local School Districts, Universities and Colleges.

    “…Though no one in state government is talking much about it these days, the cost-shift was once a key component of pension proposals. House Speaker Michael Madigan decried the ‘free lunch,’ in which school boards set employee pay without worrying about future pension costs, since those would be borne by the state.

    “Even as recently as March 2014, Senate President John Cullerton mentioned it in a speech at the Union League Club of Chicago: ‘We’ve suggested to the suburban and downstate areas, you’ve got to start paying a little bit of your employers’ portion of the pensions. It’s called a cost-shift. … It’s important. This makes good public policy,’ Cullerton said.

    “More recently, Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said while the Senate president remains interested in the idea, ‘we’ll have to wait and see how the 2015 legislative agenda takes shape.’

    "Moody’s doesn’t think schools can afford to wait. Moody’s Public Finance Vice President Rachel Cortez says the agency asks whether districts are bracing themselves for the possibility of a cost-shift: ‘The stronger credits, the stronger management teams tend to be aware that that could be coming, and are preparing for it, making contingency plans,’ she added…

    “Earlier this year, the Illinois State Board of Education reported nearly 62 percent of school districts had budget deficits. That’s up from just 18 percent in 2011. With state funding already wilting, there’s only so much districts can do to shore up for a cost-shift” (by Brian Mackey).

    September 2, 2014 from Illinois Public Radio