The in box. Richard Ingram, let’s have a conversation about pensions that doesn’t scapegoat teachers.

As stated by Ingram, “the number is so bad [regarding the COLA]… that you have to start having those conversations… that if you look at the pension math, the single biggest cost is the COLA,” in other words, “…the math is not trueing up with what is constitutional or fair or earned or whatever else.”

Well, since Ingram has changed his once stated “neutral” position since last fall, how about asking Ingram to include conversations concerning tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and the wealthy? How much revenue would be created singlehandedly with their elimination?

And how about having conversations regarding the creation of a graduated-rate structure that will “cut the overall state income tax burden for 94 percent of all taxpayers” (the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability), or how about conversations regarding the elimination of the tax loophole for “Tax Increment Financing Districts?” According to Greg Leroy, the executive director at a national policy resource center that promotes corporate and government accountability in Washington, DC, that eradication will “save $1.2 billion a year.” Yes, according to Ingram, let the suggestions and solutions for the TRS board be “new, bold and honest.”

Well here are two more suggestions and two more questions, Dick: let’s put an end to scapegoating teachers and other public employees once and for all. Public employees are not responsible for the state’s deficits. Furthermore, let’s put an end to distracting the general populace from the real problems that the State of Illinois confronts: an inadequate revenue structure and an exorbitant pension debt (caused by the Illinois General Assemblies since 1953). How about defending the legal and moral promises (Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) made to public employees in 1970 (and still relevant and pertinent today)? How about focusing on raising revenue and paying debts without compromising the future of the state’s teachers (and their students) as well as other state workers?

– Glen Brown

You can let Richard Ingram know how you feel about his COLA proposal through email: dingram@trs.illinois.gov

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