* Greg Hinz was at Gov. Pritzker’s appearance today at the Economic Club…
Insisting that “no silver bullet” exists to slay Illinois’ staggering public pension problems, Gov. J.B. Pritzker today flatly rejected the idea of tying constitutional pension reform to his proposed graduated income tax. […]
For instance, the most commonly discussed pension change that a constitutional amendment would allow is eliminating the current guaranteed 3 annual percent compounded COLA increase in benefits. But slashing that figure roughly in half to match today’s actual inflation rate “does not solve” the state’s current $133.5 billion unfunded pension liabilities, Pritzker said. “It doesn’t.” […]
Moreover, even getting such a proposition to voters would require a three-fifths approval of the House and Senate, both of which are controlled by union-friendly Democrats, Pritzker continued. Voters then would have to enact the change in a referendum by at least the same three-fifths vote.
“If you did all of that, if you could get it through . . . you will then face the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause,” which holds that contracts cannot be dismissed by legislative fiat. That’s significant because the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the government worker pensions here are an enforceable contract.
The key political numbers here are 71, 36 and 60. It’ll take 71 votes in the House, 36 votes in the Senate and 60 percent of voters to make this happen. If someone wants to show me a doable roll call in the overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly and sound polling of likely Illinois voters, then I’ll listen. Until then, this ain’t going anywhere.