At Edgar’s presser today, some uncredentialed guy with a home-made mic flag ticked off the accredited press corps by boorishly jumping in front of them to try a “gotcha” question on Senator Brady, but Brady deftly turned the question with a solid answer that made this “reporter” look kinda dumb. I think this was the same guy that buys dead airtime blocks off of WIND on the weekends for a right wing “talk show”. Is that the same guy or not?
Representatives Nekritz and Biss will attempt to float another in a string of unconstitutional proposals to reduce pension benefits this morning. Just wanted to restate Eric Madiar’s analysis of why this, and the others won’t pass constitutional, or contractual muster.
In his analysis, Madiar pointed to the Pension Clause debates that took place during the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention as a starting point for his interpretation of the Pension Clause language that prohibits Illinois from reducing benefits at all. In 1970, the Pension Clause sponsors argued that the Illinois Constitution needed a codified protection for public employees, similar to a provision in the New York Constitution that declared the contractual nature of pension benefits and foreclosed the possibility of the state reducing or eliminating those benefits entirely.
According to Madiar’s brief, after the Pension Clause was sent to committee for editing prior to submission to the voters, the Pension Laws Commission attempted to change the language by adding a contingency clause that would give power to the General Assembly to “enact reasonable modifications in employee rates of contribution, minimum service requirements and other provisions pertaining to the fiscal soundness of the retirement systems . . .” This change (submitted by the Commission twice) was rejected prior to sending the Constitution in its final form to the voters. Anti-reformers point to this fact as evidence that the drafters of the Pension Clause clearly sought to prohibit the state from reducing or diminishing an employee’s benefits.
When the text of the Pension Clause was eventually sent to Illinois voters, it included an official explanation from the Convention. The explanation stated that under the Clause, “provisions of state and local governmental pension and retirement systems shall not have their benefits reduced” and that membership in these systems “shall be a valid contractual relationship.” Finally, the explanation stated that the clause was “self-explanatory.”
Get real. You don’t get to use the pensions as your piggy bank for 7 decades, and use the excuse that the debt you ran up is to high to pay, and place it all on the employees. Taxes should have been higher all those years to properly fund your priorities. Where’s the taxpayer’s haircut in this?