To the Editor:
Last week, the state legislature took the unfortunate step of passing major pension “reform” legislation that few had the chance to fully understand.
The 300+ page bill was crafted behind closed doors – and the ink was barely dry – when it was plopped on lawmakers’ desks one day before they were asked to vote on it.
Many are wondering why the vote was scheduled the day after the filing period for candidates to be on the March ballot. Not to be cynical, this looks bad.
The public deserves to know what their elected officials are voting on. That’s why I’ve been a proponent of 72 hours public notice before the legislature votes on any state budget.
This $160 billion proposal – which spans generations – deserved nothing less. But my call for hearings went unheeded.
I voted against this bill for several reasons. First, I don’t believe it was drafted to meet constitutional standards, and stands a very real chance of being struck down by the courts.
I’m also very concerned about how the moneys “saved” by this bill will be spent.
We all know what happened with the 67 percent income tax hike. They promised us it would get our fiscal house in order. But what happened? We’re actually worse now than we were before the tax increase!
The bill contains no guarantee that the moneys will be spent wisely, and if history is any guide, they won’t be. I’m concerned that Gov. Quinn and the Democrat-controlled legislature will use the money to expand government, not pay off old bills.
I also voted against this bill because of how retirees and public sector employees were treated. For years, they did their part, faithfully making their pension contributions. And now, when the state is dramatically changing the promises it made to them, workers and employees were shut out of the process. That’s not right. I value the service and sacrifices made by our public sector employees and retirees.
Remember what Nancy Pelosi famously said about Obamacare, as it was ramrodded through Congress: “We need to pass this bill to find out what’s in it.” Obviously, there’s been a lot of “buyer’s remorse” from that decision.
We should have learned our lesson!
Senator Kirk W. Dillard
Illinois State Senator (R-Hinsdale)
Republican Candidate for Governor