April 22, 2013
State’s pension systemAs a retired public school teacher dependent on the promises inherent in our Illinois pension system, I have watched with equal parts incredulity and horror as the Tribune’s editorials on teacher pensions have taken on the emotional intensity of a petulant 2-year-old kicking and screaming in the middle of the street. Your monomaniacal obsession regarding our pensions is embarrassing, given what you must know about the outsized influence of wealthy corporations, banks and individuals in Springfield, their abilities to shape tax policy and garner lucrative tax breaks, and the barely concealed disdain and revulsion such parties show toward public-service employees and their unions.The rich and powerful understand how to use their money and power to get their way, to turn the distress of a multiyear recession to their own advantage. They conjure up fake villains (i.e., greedy teachers) while conveniently ignoring the carnage born of their own reckless speculation (2007 and 2008, anyone?).But even as your Editorial pages demand that legislators “get serious” about pension reform, you yourselves fail to make serious, in-depth editorial observations about the complexity of Illinois’ governance and the ridiculously antiquated nature of our tax laws (“On the road to nowhere; Lawmakers, it’s all about reform,” Editorial, April 14). Instead you persist in cruel, one-note tirades against the long-honored state contract with teachers.
Yes, the courts may rule against our pension security (“Crises and judges; In 1 broke state, what will 7 justices make of these 40 words?” Editorial, April 14). But despite your suggestion to the contrary, that would serve no higher purpose.
The wording of Article XIII, Section 5, of the Illinois Constitution, protecting our benefits is clear. You urge the reasonableness of choosing to truncate pensions, even as you must know that doing so would barely scratch the surface of our state’s solvency issues.
Yes, our judges may decide to make end runs around the pension security defined in our Constitution. If so, they will be complicit in further severing the bonds that connect us to each other and that reinforce our trust in government. If our Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, then what is real or worth defending?
No one is happy with what Illinois has been or what it is becoming. But playing games with the state Constitution? In your own words, get serious.
— Jane Artabasy, Glencoe