Dixon Comptroller stole $53 million while nobody watched. Ty Fahner is the state’s Rita Grundwell.
Good for the Illinois Education Association and our campaign for a living wage in Illinois.
We are campaigning for the thousands of our members who work as paraprofessionals and other non-certified jobs in the state’s schools but barely earn enough to feed their families.
But the campaign will also benefit the ten of thousands of other workers in the state who are part of the class of the working poor.
STERLING – Mindy Donoho has two jobs. She has to: Her primary job as a classroom aide at Dixon High School simply does not pay enough.
“It’s a struggle,” Donoho said. “… We’re not choosing whether to go on vacation to Hawaii or the Bahamas. We’re choosing whether to pay the gas bill or buy groceries.”
Donoho has been a paraprofessional for almost 15 years. She has asked herself every year if she can afford to stick with the job; meanwhile, she has watched fellow aides leave for better-paying jobs, schools cut support staff and aides take on more work, including students with more intense special needs.
“We don’t do this for the money,” she said. “We do this for the love of working with the kids. I ask myself every year: Why am I coming back? And I do because I know I make a difference in the lives of children.”
The Illinois Education Association believes that school support professionals should be paid a living wage, or enough money to cover the basic needs of food, shelter, transportation, health care and child care. The union at a roundtable meeting Wednesday threw its support behind a national call for a minimum starting salary of $28,000 for all education support professionals.
I couldn’t help but notice that Dixon, the home of Dixon High School where Mindy Donoho works is also the home of Rita Grundwell.
Grundwell is the Dixon Comptroller who stole $53 million over two decades. Nobody noticed. Twenty years and $53 million. But nobody noticed.
This is the perfect metaphor for what is going on in Illinois with public employee pensions.
For fifty years the state of Illinois has robbed the state pension funds of billions of dollars. And nobody noticed.
Teachers and other public employees paid their share with the hope that in retirement they would have something to live on. These days that retirement averages around $47,000 a year. But in places like Dixon and other downstate school districts it is more like $28,000 a year.
Ty Fahner, by the way, is our Rita Grundwell. It was on his watch while Attorney General that the biggest theft of our pension funds took place. It was while he was AG under Governor Jim Thompson that the state paid the least of their pension obligation.
Now he wants us to pay for it.
In Dixon, authorities are claiming they have recovered around $7 million of Grundwell’s loot.
Lot of good that will do.
Fahner wants to cut our cost of living, raise the retirement age, cap our pensionable earnings and end the state’s obligation to pay into the pension fund.
The state has a $90 billion pension liability.
Lot of good Fahner’s benefit cuts will do.