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Strength test

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012

* The naïveté of the Peoria Journal Star’s editorial bashing the constitutional amendment requiring a three-fifths vote kinda overwhelms me

Arguably only a legislator with a political death wish would sponsor legislation boosting retirement benefits now.

Actually, legislators sponsored pension boosts just last session.

* Look, the proposal is what it is: A bipartisan face-saving gesture from a General Assembly that couldn’t figure out what to do about pensions.

But unless it’s repealed, a constitutional amendment is with us forever. In years to come, when the pension furor has died down, the amendment would still be on the books.

* And, yes, it’s true that almost all pension sweeteners were approved by more than three-fifths majorities. But a constitutional requirement for a super-majority almost always means that legislation is given a closer look by members. Its status is elevated by the Constitution.

The proposal probably won’t accomplish much at all in the near future. But it could very well be a flashing caution light for future generations when they take up pension issues.

* This, however, has some merit

Fourth, philosophically speaking, it’s always wise to be wary of governing by supermajority, as it empowers the minority. Some may be more sympathetic to that on this specific issue, but this is a precedent Illinoisans should not want to take root.

Plenty of proposals have surfaced over the years to require three-fifths majorities for tax hikes, which would make them all but impossible unless we get another Republican governor who wants a tax hike and has the ability to accomplish his goal (see Jim Edgar and the permanent extension of the temporary income tax hike for our only example).

* Pretty much every newspaper editorial board in the state has railed against this proposal. So, we’ll see just how influential they are come election day. If this thing is approved, without any groups spending any real money promoting it, then editorial boards might as well hang it up.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Rufus - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:12 am:

    After reading as much as I can find on this issue, I can’t decide whether I am for or against.

  2. - Skirmisher - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:16 am:

    The Fourth Point is exactly my problem with this and all similar proposals: A 3/5 majority requirement to a large degree undercuts the entire political process. Tempting in many cases, I will admit, but not necessarily in the interest of efficient governing.

  3. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    Perhaps the few remaining newsroom employees at the PJS are all eyeing gov’t jobs and don’t want any unnecessary hurdles to their own future pension sweetners.

  4. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:18 am:

    I voted against it. It has been characterized by media and good govt groups as a power grab, and I agree…

  5. - RNUG - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:20 am:

    Even though its not being promoted, I expect it to pass because most voters won’t read beyond the first couple of lines or the synopsis provided in the flyer. Only the people who try to make sens of it and decide it is needlessly wordy and confusing will vote against it.

    Give Illinois voters two choices and they will pick the wrong one.

  6. - Bluefish - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    Would these be the same editorial boards who will regret in a few years that there is not something in place to prevent future General Assemblies from undoing whatever pension reforms are enacted in 2013?

  7. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 10:56 am:

    We vote for it because it represents another common sense step toward getting the pension costs under control

    It is not a solution to cutting the unfunded liability —AND IT WAS NEVER PORTRAYED AS SUCH

    It is not a solution to poor investment returns from a collection that included jimRYAN favorite Stu Levine and others — AND IT WAS NEVER PORTRAYED AS SUCH


    Capt. Fax’s editorial board observation is interesting. But if it fails who will want to take the next step and in what direction. Certainly not Billboards Cross and the few misfits left in his little clubhouse.
    Anyone else will probably go to the sidelines on the issue.

    The media smart guys continue to amaze, but that is what make Illinois such a great state.

    Only in a place like Illinois can a guy collect hundreds of thousands from hedge fund hustlers and other wing nuts and then dole it out in a secret pac payments while hosting a A.M. radio show in the nation’s 3rd biggest market.

    BTW now that everyone hates extraordinary majorities or minority rule it will be A-O.K. and the Senate Dems to dump the filibuster rule


  8. - sal-says - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    “* Pretty much every newspaper editorial board in the state has railed against…”

    But not the Rockford Register-Star. See:

  9. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    When the teachers union got 99% vote to strike the 3/5th dosen’t look so bad. This is a call to save us from our selves.

    The people should do more of the heavy lifting.

  10. - the old professor - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    I tried to read the Amendment, especially its last, impossible-to-parse sentence. I already voted against it. Its provenance and its wording evoke the lyrics to the Don Henley song “Gimme what you got”:

    You cross a lawyer with the godfather, baby
    Make you an offer that you can’t understand

  11. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 12:53 pm:

    If you read further into the wording it gives the GA the ability to REDUCE the existing pensions of teacher and state employees, with just a majority vote, which are currently protected by the state constitution. Our state employees already have the second worse pension rate in the US, while our state legislators enjoy one of the best. Our GA folks can get an 85% pension after 20 years doing just a part-time job, while it would take regular full-time state employees 50 years to get 85%! This amendment helps no one. I will be voting NO!

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===If you read further into the wording it gives the GA the ability to REDUCE the existing pensions ===

    No, it doesn’t.

  13. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    Only in the er, fertile mind of CFS do we get the real talking points for this piece of nonsense.
    Good Lord, when are you gonna give it up on Stu Levine? That’s going on 10 years ago, notwithstanding that you have never pointed out ONE “bad investment decision” leading to “poor investment returns.” You don’t because you can’t. Even the Feds never accused him of that.

  14. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    Someone tell me how this doesn’t mean the state legislature would control every aspect of compensation except salary:

    (b) No ordinance, resolution, rule, or other action of the
    26 governing body, or an appointee or employee of the governing

    HC0049 - 3 - LRB097 21008 AMC 68312 e

    1 body, of any unit of local government or school district that
    2 provides an emolument increase to an official or employee that
    3 has the effect of increasing the amount of the pension or
    4 annuity that an official or employee could receive as a member
    5 of a pension or retirement system shall be valid without the
    6 concurrence of three-fifths of the members of that governing
    7 body. For purposes of this subsection, the term “emolument
    8 increase” means the creation of a new or enhancement of an
    9 existing advantage, profit or gain that an official or employee
    10 receives by virtue of holding office or employment, including,
    11 but not limited to, compensated time off, bonuses, incentives,
    12 or other forms of compensation.

  15. - G'Kar - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 2:56 pm:

    Most public employees are not eligible for Social Security because the pensions at least match the benefits one would receive from SS. However, that is not true for the Tier II Employee who were hired after Jan 1st, 2011. Their pension will not match SS benefits. The Feds have already told the state that once these new employees become vested, they will insist that the employers will start to pay into the SS fund–that will be an addition cost to local school districts. If this amendment is passed, it will make it that much harder to modify the Tier II pensions to keep the local school districts from having to find the money to pay into SS.

  16. - Sgtstu - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 5:45 pm:

    “* Pretty much every newspaper editorial board in the state has railed against this proposal.” I wonder why that is Rich ? Could it be that they are right and you are wrong ?

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 5:48 pm:

    ===Could it be that they are right and you are wrong ? ===

    Hey, I ain’t supporting this thing.

  18. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 7:46 pm:

    G’Kar is in error as far as state employees go. Almost all state employees are eligible for both state retirement and Social Security. Prior to the Reagan-O’Neill budget deal in 1982 state employees were in the same boat as teachers- no Social Security. Some state employees were given a choice if they had enough years of service under the old system. But those people are nearly all retired by now. The last one I knew at DHS retired in 2002.

  19. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Oct 30, 12 @ 8:08 pm:

    I’d like it to be 4/5. I think the minority should be empowered against overreaching legislation. If we can’t get 80% of people to agree that assaults or driving on the wrong side of the road should be illegal, I’m not sure what that says about us as a society. And, although I support encouragement of “green” initiatives, if 80% of the population doesn’t also agree in the use of taxpayer grants to support them, who am I to force them?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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