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Letter: It's not pension 'reform'

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 9:59 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Thank you for bringing Daily Chronicle readers up-to-date on the recent retirements from Northern Illinois University with Katie Dahlstrom’s article on July 12 (183 NIU workers leave in spring, page A1). 

Northern Illinois University is of great interest to many of us, and many of us are affected by the state of Illinois’ retirement systems. 

But, I do wish that the Chronicle and other news media would not refer to the recent changes in the state employees’ pensions as “pension reform.”   

I have consulted 19 English dictionaries and am told by them that “reform” means “improvement” or “change for the better.” 

The many news reports are correct in noting that the recent legislative action significantly reduces pension benefits for the large number of people (employees and retirees) in the state pension systems. Therefore, the changes made by the legislature are not pension improvements (thus are not pension reforms).  

Opinions may vary on whether the new legislation is wise or unwise, reasonable or unreasonable, moral or immoral, constitutional or unconstitutional, but it is incorrect to call these changes a “reform” (that is, an “improvement”) of state pensions. “Reform” does not simply mean “change”; it means “improvement” or “change for the better” and we should not refer to this legislation a something it is clearly not. 

Jerrold Zar


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