* Back in January, the Chicago Tribune editorial page absolutely blasted state Rep. Tom Morrison for his pension reform vote…
Timid lawmakers reached hither and yon to find reasons for not supporting reform legislation: This proposal is too strong, that proposal is too weak, and so on — whatever it took to avoid decisive action.
Among the most maladroit: state Rep. Tom Morrison, a conservative Republican from Palatine, who ran for office on a platform of … pension reform. We endorsed Morrison wholeheartedly — and then he voted Monday in committee against the only serious, cost-cutting pension reform measure that had any momentum. He evidently thought it didn’t go far enough. In other words, pension reform champion Morrison had found his reason to oppose pension reform!
* Over the weekend, the Tribune considerably softened its rhetoric, but still urged Morrison and his sole co-sponsor, Rep. Jeanne Ives, to not make the perfect the enemy of the good…
In the House, divisions appeared in the Republican caucus. State Reps. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, and Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, introduced a pension bill that would shift government workers into 401(k)-style plans and freeze the state’s defined benefit program going forward.
It’s a laudable idea advanced by the Illinois Policy Institute, a right-leaning think tank. The sponsors say it would cut almost in half the state’s $96.8 billion unfunded liability in the next fiscal year and save roughly $2 billion in spending.
But the two sponsors are waiting for … a third sponsor. They have garnered scant support, and they have created the risk that lawmakers will use this bill as an excuse to peel off of the consensus slowly building for the package proposed by Biss, Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.
Remember your Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
* Rep. Ives responded…
I greatly appreciate that the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, in their article, “On the Road to Nowhere,” recognized the merit of HB 3303, the pension reform plan put forth by Rep. Tom Morrison and me.
As one of the major daily newspapers in the state, your advocacy and influence is powerful. For that reason, I respectfully request that you, reconsidered your position on state pension reform from “Get Something (Anything) Done” to “Get the Right Thing Done – Create Real Reform in Illinois.”
If it is “the perfect” vs. “the good” then why advocate for the lesser, simply because it is more popular or has bigger names signed to it? Do not abandon your challenge to fix the pension system for the good of those in the system and tax-payers.
Advocate for the plan that remove us, as a citizenry, from the system that has played heavily into creating the economic tragedy in which we currently find ourselves.
As Military Historian, John Keegan states, “Soldiers, when committed to a task, can’t compromise. It’s unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it’s been done.”
Rep. Ives is a freshman who obviously isn’t here to learn. She’s here to teach.
If she was here to learn, she’d already know the serious fiscal consequences of moving to a 401(k) system. No more employee pension contributions into a gigantic legacy system which still somehow has to be dealt with, and new state Social Security employer payments. [ADDING: As a commenter points out, Ives’ bill would not necessarily require SS payments.]
If she was here to learn, she’d already know the necessity of compromise in a legislative environment. Nobody ever gets everything they want, so eventually people have to work together to do what can be done to fix as many problems as possible.
Tea partiers like Rep. Ives like to talk a lot about strict adherence to the US Constitution. Well, there’s also an Illinois Constitution and Rep. Ives is sworn to uphold it. I don’t know of anybody who has ever come up with any sort of argument that switching everybody into a 401(k) program is in any way or form constitutional. [ADDING: OK, Sidley and Austin does, but this is still an outlier position.]
Also, you’re not a soldier, Rep. Ives. You’re a legislator. Big difference. To compare yourself to a soldier is not only silly, but also insulting to actual soldiers, many of whom put their very lives on the line every day in service to our country and our Constitution.
* Chicago tax day Tea Party rally garners a smaller-than-expected crowd of a few hundred