On Election Day, Illinois voters will decide on a constitutional amendment regarding pensions for state and local employees. The referendum, clouded in legal-speak, would require a 3/5ths majority vote by governing bodies to "increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system." Now at first glance, this sounds great--"Hey, let's put some limits on these pensions," says the average taxpayer.
My retirement is dependent on my firefighter's pension, so I know as well as anyone that pension reform is needed in order to maintain the benefits promised by my employers--which would be you, the taxpayers and residents of the town I am sworn to protect.
If this referendum actually addressed the pension-funding problem, then there might be merit to a constitutional amendment. Sadly, it does not. Passage of this amendment will do absolutely nothing to reduce the financial burden faced by taxpayers, either now or in the future.
Please realize that the pension costs straining municipal budgets have nothing to do with benefit increases, and everything to do with decades of inadequate funding by shortsighted politicians and city managers.
So, if this referendum does nothing to reduce current or future pension costs, then what is the actual intent of this proposal? Lawmakers want to look like they're "doing something" about pensions, but not by tinkering with the Constitution for no actual benefit! We need actual solutions and compromises to be made! Who will benefit if this vague and confusing amendment passes? No one but the lawyers, as time and money are wasted on this shoddy legislation as it gets dragged through the courts.
So, when faced with the choice to muddy the legislative waters and make it even MORE difficult for lawmakers to get anything useful accomplished--for no benefit or financial relief for taxpayers--please just say, "No."