Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wait, what? I thought "we are one."

We Are One Coalition leaders make their case at Wednesday's press conference
A coalition of public employee unions Wednesday blasted legislation to address the state's underfunded worker pension systems and offered instead to make increased contributions — if the state guarantees its share of retirement payments and raises $2 billion by ending corporate tax benefits and imposing new taxes. -- Chicago Tribune
I'm sorry, but I don't remember giving these guys the authority to negotiate away any part of my meager but constitutionally protected retirement money. In fact, I can't recall any of us retirees ever being asked to be part of the conversation about how to save the state's underfunded worker pension systems. 

I know the pension fund is in trouble and I'm glad the We Are One Illinois coalition is there as part of the growing movement to fight back against Gov."Squeezy" Quinn's proposed legislation. I was planning to go down to Springfield with them on the 3rd of January to protest the latest fund grab.

We Are One has always been clear on the fact that the trouble wasn't caused by teachers, cops, firefighters, disability caregivers and other public employees taking too much out of the fund they have paid into for years. Everyone knows it's because the state has failed to meet its legal obligation and make payments into the fund.

So why are they offering up increases in our contribution to the fund as a negotiation starter? Who gave them the authority? And in exchange for what? A supposed "ironclad guarantee" in state law that government would fund its share of pension obligations? 

But who can make such a "guarantee"? And once you agree to the first cut, aren't you opening the door for more and weakening our legal stand in the courts? And where will this iron-clad guaranteed money come from? Increased payments from local school districts that are already on shaky financial ground?

Coalition leaders are proposing in their White Paper, eliminating some corporate tax loopholes and imposing new tax increases. These are all good ideas and discussion starters. An even better one would be a state graduated income tax, which, when combined with a refinancing of the state’s pension debt, would allow for a 30-year payoff of the debt and a reduction in taxes for a large number of the state’s citizens.

But our gutless Democrats, most of whom operate under the thumb of Boss Madigan, have never been willing to stand up to the corporations, who are their major campaign donors. The only iron-clad guarantee I see is that our pension benefits are guaranteed by the State Constitution--even if Quinn, Madigan and the rest believe that's not worth the paper it's written on. Iron-clad means nothing to them. They always have their fingers crossed when they make promises. Let's see them in court and on the streets of Springfield. 

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