For many Chicagoans, Rick Roberts is a familiar name, for his work with the homeless and others in need. The former director of the Christian Industrial League's, he was named a Sun Times Person of the Year in the 90's and received a White Point of Light Award for his work with the poor. He is a documentary producer and consultant who focuses on social welfare issues. Despite all that, he staunchly opposes the tax increase now being debated behind closed doors.
Here is Rick in his own words:
I am suggesting you and your readers make some noise on the following:
1) Demand all elected officials immediately take a 10 percent voluntary pay cut until Illinois is out of debt.
2) We the people demand that real pension reform cuts all current as well as future pensions by an amount dependent on final salary. The more you get paid the bigger your pension cut. The exception as I indicated before would be with first responders. Police, Firefighters & EMTs. Also do not let any public employee retire before a private sector employee can go on early Social Security which is 62 yrs of age.
3) Demand all other public service unions re-open negotiations so we can make Illinois solvent including ALL Teachers Unions. Many teachers are hardworking and skilled but far too many are not. The proof is in our wretched academic results in Illinois, and particularly in Chicago Public Schools.
4) Be fully prepared for lawsuits that will claim the Illinois Constitution proscribes some of the above. So what. The Illinois Constitution was not handed down from Mt. Zion with the Ten Commandments. Before we ask individuals and businesses in Illinois to pay a dime more in income tax let's make serious cuts in what is euphemistically called "Public Service." If it's really public service, let's see who is on the taxpayer payroll and who is willing to sacrifice.
5) The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club does not go far enough in its recommendations and if we allow paper pushers, non emergency employees and even teachers to dictate our budgetary future, Illinois will never get out of debt.
Yes lawsuits can be expensive to defend but I bet there would be attorneys in Illinois who might consider doing pro-bono work if it meant our financial future was finally stabilized and our children and grandchildren were not burdened with massive debt. At the very least, ALL elected officials throughout the state should voluntarily take a minimum of 10 percent or less in their public paychecks to prove they know what "Public Service" really is. Otherwise, let them quit and see what the private sector is like. More of the cost of each public employee’s health care should also be borne by the employees themselves, but lets cut salaries first.
This will not balance Illinois budget but will show frustrated taxpayers that those at the public trough are also sacrificing . Then and only then should we begin discussing revenue increases.