* Diana Sroka Rickert of the Illinois Policy Institute, writing in the Tribune…
The state’s pension system is underfunded by more than $100 billion, and beyond repair. When it comes to reforming the system, lawmakers’ hands are tied. On Friday the court ruled that the retirement benefits offered on current workers’ first day of employment can never be changed; only new hires can earn retirement benefits differently.
So if changes can’t be made, here is what Gov. Bruce Rauner should do: Lay off the entire state workforce, and close the pension system. Work with the General Assembly to open a different retirement plan for newly hired government workers, modeled after the nation’s most popular retirement vehicle: the 401(k). Then offer to rehire state workers under the new retirement plan.
It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.
State laws will need to be changed. Pension benefits earned to date will need to be paid.
The government unions will file lawsuits, and the legality of this strategy will be challenged. Understandably, some workers will turn down the new deal. Daily operations of state government will be disrupted — and potentially result in a government shutdown.
But even if all those things happen, the ultimate outcome will be better than what’s ahead if the state does nothing.
What a total crock.
* From the recent opinion…
Moreover, no possible claim can be made that no less drastic measures were available when balancing pension obligations with other State expenditures became problematic
And firing all workers is somehow less drastic?
The General Assembly may not legislate on a subject withdrawn from its authority by the constitution
So, yeah, the Supremes will approve this idea for sure.
* When those employees were hired, they were promised pension benefits. And if they quit their jobs for a while and then returned to government service they picked up where they left off. The Supreme Court was crystal clear. The General Assembly can’t break that contract now.