From the campaign to elect Bob Kalnicky to the Illinois House (98th District)…
Once again, Governor Quinn has failed to lead the charge for true pension reform. In his budget address last week, Quinn made a passing reference to a problem that has left the futures of millions of Illinois residents cloaked in uncertainty. Candidate for the 98th district State Representative seat, Bob Kalnicky, believes elected officials need to do more, "Governor Quinn offered no new solutions to address our current pension crisis or reforms that can be made for future state retirees. Instead, he once again kicked the can down the road, deferring to a legislative working group that's facing a mid-April deadline to present lawmakers with a way forward. This is not what I call 'leadership.'"
Although Quinn makes the statement that "nothing is off the table," it was just last Spring when the Governor joined his fellow Democrats in failing to move forward with HB149, a serious pension reform bill that according to an analysis done by the Illinois Policy Institute, would "decrease the state's future pension debt significantly."
The pension crisis beleaguering elected officials across America is particularly acute in Illinois, where "funded ratios (43%) were the lowest among states last year*." Put another way, if 100 public workers retired today, each qualifying for identical annual pensions and retirement benefits, 57 out of 100 would be sent away empty handed. There is not enough money to go around because past Governors and Springfield power brokers diverted it to pet projects.
Despite the dismal outlook of the state's financial situation, hope can be found in the example of other states that have implemented significant reforms in their pension programs. One such state is New Jersey, where Republican Governor, Chris Christie, introduced a budget that cut income taxes by 10% over 36 months and will make a 2013 pension payment of $1.1 billion.
"We can shake our heads in disbelief but that won't solve our problem. We need a plan to remove the grip of unfunded pension debt from the state's fiscal neck. It's going to take revolutionary leadership in Springfield to pull our state out of the hole we've dug for ourselves - and I am committed to being that leader in the 98th district," states Kalnicky.