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Letter: ‘Pension reform’ an unfair solution

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

I fear a major mental-health crisis is looming in the state of Illinois. For those of us on the receiving end of the pension discussions, the only resolutions suggested so far are to reduce take-home pay and pensions and severely increase health care costs.

This will eventually add up to more mental-health issues. Our benefit choice period ends May 31 and no one knows what will happen. How can we possibly make informed choices?

Years ago, when the state decided to opt out of the Social Security program, I’m sure legislators thought it would save the state money. By funding their own program, they didn’t have to pay into the federal system. Then because no one “forced” them to make payments, they thought they’d save even more money by paying later and even not making some payments at all.

But push has come to shove.  Their short-sighted actions are now costing the state big time!  And the only resolution they can come up with is to stick it to the workers who already paid their share.

How sick is that? They want to steal the money from the very people they already have stolen millions from.

It can’t be said too often that the state retirement programs replaced Social Security for most of us. Any who think it is fair to increase our payments and reduce our benefits must remember that. We don’t have a cushion.

Those that recommend implementing a 401K-type plan must also realize that there is risk inherent in those plans. Generally, they are offered in addition to Social Security, not to replace it.  Also, if current workers leave the state’s plan for a 401K plan, they will pull their money out of the state plan, further draining the coffers. That is their right. It is their money.

The so-called “pension problem” isn’t a problem with the pension systems. It is a revenue issue. It is a matter of not being able to pay the state’s bills. As such, all of the people in Illinois must face this fact and help pay for the poor judgment of our previous legislators and governors. “Pension reform” will not solve the revenue issue. “Pension reform” isn’t really possible because there is nothing to “reform.”  All they are doing is reducing promised benefits, reducing workers’ income, and once again putting off their responsibility.

Peggy Safford


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