Public Affairs show host Jeff Berkowitz's interview with Senator Mike Noland gives you a good idea of the tension facing many Democrats as they attempt to deal with pension reform. On the one hand, the Democrats have to be sensitive to the many opinion makers who join Gov. Quinn in his argument made this Spring that the 83 billion dollar underfunding of the state employee pensions has to be dealt with soon, and probably that means reducing the "COLA or cost of living adjustment," benefits bestowed on state employees, increasing the state employee retirement age and increasing the state employee contribution to their pensions.
On the other hand, the Democrats have to be sensitive to the demands of their union supporters and contributors, without whom many of the Democratic state legislators wouldn't have been elected and without whom many of the Democrats won't be able to get re-elected.
You can watch Senator Noland deal with the issues, while being pulled in oppostite directions, tonight at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 throughout the City of Chicago.
You can also watch 24/7 the thirty minute, probing TV interview on Public Affairs with Senator Noland on Illinois state employee pension reform issues.
Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), this week's Public Affairs featured guest in the suburban edition of Public Affairs (and next week's featured guest in the City of Chicago editon of Public Affairs) [watch Duffy show here] called the pension reform legislation sponsored by Senate President Cullerton a "Big joke." That legislation passed the Senate but was not called by the House. Senator Duffy said the "Cullerton legislation was a joke," because its main purpose, in Senator Duffy's opinion, was to allow the Democrats to say they supported pension reform (without actually enacting it and thereby upsetting the unions).
Somewhat ironically, Senator Noland did not vote for the Cullerton sponsored pension reform legislation. Noland voted present which is more akin to a no vote. In part, Noland said this was because the Cullerton legislation did not hold the state employees "harmless." In Noland's view, the legislation did not provide the guaranty of "promised benefits," to the state employees. He thought that unfair. Others, like State Rep. Senger (R-Naperville) would say it is unfair to the citizens of the state of Illinois to keep "their promises," to the state pension recipients by raising state income or sales taxes or local property taxes on everybody else, many if not most of whom are people without anything close to the pensions that the state emplyees have. [Watch Senger show here] Who is right? Senator Noland? Senator Duffy? Rep. Senger? We discuss, you decide.