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Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 11:03 am

Unlucky Article XIII cheats voters

The constitutional amendment to Article XIII on the November ballot is cleverly drafted to concentrate more monetary power in the same Springfield legislative leaders who have de facto bankrupted the Illinois treasury. With $83 billion in projected liabilities, Illinois has the nation’s largest state budget crisis.

This “Unlucky Article XIII Amendment” is crafted to strip local governments and voters of current decision-making prerogatives and transfer those decisions to Springfield. As such, it is lose-lose for the entire political spectrum of Illinois voters.

Among other subterfuges, the Article XIII Amendment overrules and destroys the Illinois constitutional protection against eliminating or reducing earned benefits, such as pensions for state retirees who by state law cannot receive Social Security and, in many instances, cannot receive Medicare and Medicaid.

Furthermore, thousands of elderly retirees and current state employees were mandated by Illinois law to pay into Illinois retirement systems and then legally prohibited from having Social Security.

This Illinois Article XIII Amendment contains more words than the entire first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution – the Bill of Rights. The obvious intent of the verbose Illinois Article XIII Amendment is to hide its true impacts from voters in an avalanche of unnecessary and deceptive words.

Marketing experts know that few voters will read beyond the benign first sentences and that voters will be inclined to vote “yes.” While the voters may wish to vote to concentrate more monetary power in Springfield leadership, they should not be tricked into misdirecting their votes.

For example, hidden in the last sentence is the new constitutional provision: “(d) Nothing in this Section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law, ordinance, resolution, rule, policy or practice that further restricts the ability to provide a ‘benefit increase,’ ‘emolument increase,’ or ‘beneficial determination’ as those terms are used under this Section.”

Thus, this new Article XIII Amendment overrules the current constitutional safeguard known as the “non-impairment provision” in Article XIII, sec. 5, of the Illinois Constitution.

The legislative voting process obviously misled numerous Springfield legislators who voted to place the Article XIII Amendment on the November ballot – when the Amendment’s language had not been properly vetted. The Article XIII Amendment has also been disguised with various monikers including “HCA49” and “HJRCA49,” and it was originally floated by Speaker Michael Madigan’s office as “Amendment 5.”

On the ballot certified in September by the State Board of Elections, none of these issues are even mentioned in the summary, the “Explanation of Amendment.” Instead there is an emphasized caveat in bold letters which arguably encourages voters to vote “yes” by beginning with the warning: “Note: The Failure To Vote This Ballot ….”

In contrast with the certified ballot’s bold print emphasis instructing the vote on the Article XIII Amendment, voters will have to play hide-and-seek to find and decipher the 700 words of the Article XIII Amendment – before they go to the polls. The entire 700 words are not even printed on the ballot.

After the November election, the public outrage will begin when all public employee organizations (such as teachers), budget reformers, good-government civic groups and even misled Springfield legislators finally realize that Illinois voters were deceived into voting “yes” for the Article XIII Amendment.

By voting “yes” for the “Unlucky Article XIII Amendment,” the voters will have destroyed their current Illinois constitutional protections and concentrated huge new budgetary powers in the same Springfield leadership which has caused the Illinois budgetary crisis.

John Kindt of Champaign, University of Illinois professor of business administration, has three graduate degrees in law. He has often testified as an academic before Congress and state legislatures regarding business and legal policy issues.
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