Constitutional amendment 49 is 700 dirty little words. You only need to know one: No.

Constitutional Amendment 49 follows the logic of the Big Bird Rule.

Seven hundred words.

That’s about how long Constitutional Amendment 49 is that will be on the ballot November 6th.

But if passed, those words may supersede the words in  Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution which contains the clause prohibiting state pension benefits from being diminished or impaired.

If passed, a local  body could reduce or eliminate what had formerly been a constitutionally protected benefit with a simple majority vote. But an increase to a benefit would require a super majority.

Democratic Party Boss Michael Madigan made sure the bill was wordy and confusing, the better to give all but the few members of the Illinois General Assembly who voted no, wiggle room to explain their vote to put it on the ballot.

At 700 words it is longer than the Bill of Rights.

Constitutional Amendment 49 allows the politicians in this state to continue to follow the Big Bird Rule.

Just as Mitt Romney proposed killing Big Bird in order to stop what he calls too much federal spending, the political leaders in this state continue to argue that modest pension benefits rather than insufficient revenue is the root of the pension problem.

Pension benefits have no more to do with the underfunding of state pensions and the debt the state owes than Big Bird has to the operation of the federal government.

Make sure you and everyone you know in Illinois is voting NO on Constitutional Amendment 49.

5 thoughts on “Constitutional amendment 49 is 700 dirty little words. You only need to know one: No.

  1. Thanks Fred, I am a retired teacher. But I get tongue-tied trying to explain to family and friends why they should vote “No” on Constitutional amendment 49.This will help.

  2. Hi, Fred! I found your blog researching this issue. Two questions for you:

    The Amendment is billed as section 5.1. Does that override the existing text in Section 5? It clearly makes it more difficult to increase pension benefits, but the way I seem to be reading it, that’s all it does. It doesn’t look like it eliminates Section 5, which, with 5.1 in place would still read “cannot be diminished or impaired.” Since the amendment only deals with increasing benefits, it looks like existing benefits are still protected. What am I missing?

    1. Michael,
      You may be right and you may not be missing anything. But lawyers and legislators disagree on how this might be interpreted by the courts. For example, does the existing COLA constitute an existing benefit that cannot be diminished or impaired. No one can be sure as to how it will impact the pension protection clause.

      The Big Bird rule? However you think about federal deficits, Big Bird is not the problem. However you think about the pension debt, pension benefits are not the problem. Politicians will always create a diversion from the real issue. The Big Bird rule.

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