There was tons of stuff in Governor Rauner’s state of the State address yesterday to be disgusted with.
He pitted working people against taxpayers as if they were different constituencies. As if taxpayers were people other than the working families that include union families.
In Illinois, the lowest-earning 20 percent paid 13.2 percent of their income in total state and local taxes, but the top 1 percent paid just 4.6 percent. That’s a 9.6 percentage-point difference.
“…as a first step toward bipartisan compromise, President Cullerton and I have agreed to support his pension proposal that will save $1 billion/year from four of the state pension plans.”
So far the Cullerton pension proposal has been more smoke than legislation.
The word is that the Senate President plan includes resurrecting the choice component of his failed SB2404 in which current state employees would choose between lower salaries or lower cost of living adjustments in retirement.
To be clear, this won’t pass constitutional muster.
The courts, including the Illinois Supreme Court, have ruled that employees are covered by contract law and the Illinois Constitution from the day the employee makes their first pension contribution.
The courts, including the Illinois Supreme Court, have ruled that pension benefits may not be diminished or impaired.
The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously said that a crisis created by the state legislature, as is the current $110 billion pension liability, cannot be an excuse for ignoring the pension protection clause of the state’s constitution.
They have ruled that a choice is not a choice if it is made under duress.
The facts are that even if Rauner were to withdraw his union-busting provisions from Cullerton’s pension theft proposal, it will not survive a court challenge.
The liability will continue to grow.
And without a change in the way the state raises revenue by placing a greater responsibility on those who are rich, the taxpayers and the workers – including union workers – will pay the price.