Some scary things are happening in
The governor is considering borrowing
$15 billion. Lawmakers are talking about borrowing $3.7 billion for
pensions. And everyone is talking about increasing
the personal income tax from 3 to 5 percent.
Responsible legislators in both
parties should just say "no" to the tax-increase and bond proposals. They should vote against - and speak out
against - any solution that fails to first reform pension and retiree health
care programs and Medicaid, and fails to cut the State's budget by billions
each year. Instead, they should seize
this opportunity to put the State back on the path to financial health.
Virtually every political figure in
Illinois now concedes that our State Government is in a terrible fiscal
mess. Our annual embedded budget deficit
is about $15 billion. In addition, the
unfunded liabilities of the State's five pension plans have snowballed to about
$85 billion - with additional billions at the municipal level. Unfunded obligations for retiree health care
costs of public employees add another $40 billion. Toss in a few more billions of pension bonds
and notes. The total debt is already
staggering - almost incomprehensible.
Clearly the proposed tax increase and
massive new bond issue would not address the State's underlying fiscal
imbalance The huge unfunded pension
obligations would not be reduced by a nickel, but would continue to grow - putting
the funds at great risk of bankruptcy.
We can't allow our lawmakers to
continue borrowing money and taxing Illinois citizens unless they first address
the pension crisis that nearly every community throughout Illinois is facing.
Tell Springfield to solve the real
problem - $130 billion in unfunded obligations for pensions and retiree
health care. Reforms and cost-cutting
should be an absolute precondition to any tax increase. Current public employees should be given
choices in their pension programs going forward, and they should make higher
contributions if they choose more costly programs. State retirees should contribute toward their
health care premiums.
your legislator today and urge them to pass retirement related reforms for
current state employees before they borrow or tax another penny.