Letters to the Editor 6/14/18
EDGAR NO FISCAL ANGEL
In response to “Back to the backlog,” (Daniel C. Vock, Illinois Times, June 7): Saying that Illinois’ “downward slide” began with George Ryan is a little like saying that Europe’s problems in WWII started at Dunkirk.
Any well-researched article (Crain’s Chicago Business ran an excellent one) will correctly point out that the pension fund had been intentionally shorted every year since the 1950s.
It became institutionalized in the ’80s under Jim Thompson, as funding 60 percent of what was required was deemed sufficient and became embodied in legislation and the term “pension holiday” crept into our language. Big Jim then finalized his contributions by rolling over for the unions and agreeing to the catastrophic 1989 giveaway of compounded 3 percent annual increases for all Illinois employees and pensioners (among other things) while offering no plan to pay for it. When (of all people) Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan led the charge to drive the stake through the vampire’s heart and rescind that legislation 20 years later, it had somehow become part of the state constitution.
Next up, Jim Edgar. The article states that the 1990s under Edgar “look like the state’s heyday.” Enter the “Edgar ramp.” They dealt with the pension shortfall by divvying it up fairly for everyone to deal with, right?
That’s precisely what they avoided doing. Their grand plan set up what are essentially token payments for the first five or six years – as in the rest of Edgar’s term – and then ballooned like a 2005 Florida subprime mortgage for the governors following him to have to deal with. Regarding the state’s financial mess, the guys that followed Jim Edgar have him to thank for absolutely nothing except throwing the live grenade in the room and then slamming the door shut as he ran down the hall.
Daniel Vock starts his piece here, and, with all due respect to Mr. Vock and a necessary nod to some quality reporting through the rest of the article, it very badly misses the mark as to when the problems started and why. By three or four decades and tens of billions of dollars. But then, this is Illinois, right? Ten billion here and ten billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about some real money!
GIVE OUR MONEY BACK
In response to Dick McLane’s June 7 letter to the editor, I concur that there should be a rise up, but it should be the employees that say no more. It is those of us who were forced to pay into the private pension required by the university system. At 37 percent funded, that means that literally 13 percent of my money has been stolen. No one asked to borrow it, so therefore it must be stolen.
For every overpaid and underemployed pension receiver, there are hundreds of us that were paid barely above minimum wage that took those jobs for the benefits. We worked our required years to get to retirement. Yet we will be the ones that will be forced to bear the brunt of any pension cuts that would be coming down the pike.
If anyone should be rising up, it should be those of us who fear what little we will get will be taken away and giving to those at the top just like everything else. In my opinion, those of us who had to pay in privately should be allowed to take up a class-action suit and demand that the fund be returned to at least 50 percent. Because that’s not the state’s money; it’s ours.