I have been in this fight against pension thievery for a long time. It goes back long before I was a retired teacher myself.
As my friend and fellow blogger Glen Brown always says, public employee pensions are a moral and legal obligation of the state.
And when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the pension protection clause, they made another important point: If the state can take away the promised pensions of state workers based on a crisis that they themselves created, what rights and property of the people are safe from future thievery.
The two leading legislative proponents of pension theft – although not the only ones, for sure – were Representative Elaine Nekritz in the House chamber and State Senator Dan Biss in the Senate chamber.
I debated both these folks over the course of our successful defense of our pensions.
And here I am challenging Elaine Nekritz at a forum that same year at East Aurora High School.
There has been a lot of water under that pension bridge since then.
Most importantly, the highest court in the state has ruled in favor of the pension rights of current retirees, and I believe in favor of current employees.
Where are Biss and Nekritz?
Dan Biss is running for governor of Illinois as a Progressive. On many issues he certainly qualifies.
I have asked him directly about his current position on pension protection and pension reform proposals.
“I’m not going to vote for anything I don’t think would be upheld by the courts,” he told me.
I find this to be a fairly careful and nuanced statement.
As my friend, Glen Brown put it, the pension promise was a moral as well as a legal obligation of the state.
Maybe it is too much to expect a politician to speak in terms of moral obligations.
As for Nekrtiz, she announced today she is not running for state representative again.
At one time Nekritz was seen as a possible successor to Speaker Michael Madigan.
But she never said she was wrong about pension theft.
I believe her reputation as a pension thief put an end to her political aspirations. Just as Pat Quinn’s defeat by Bruce Rauner can be laid at the feet of his views on pension reform and his signature on an unconstitutional bill.
Good riddance to Elaine Nekritz.
As to State Senator Dan Biss, I think he will have trouble with state retired workers and their families.
I think his change of mind about voting for unconstitutional laws is progress.
I think he needs to say more.
We asked him to come on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers to talk about it. His people said maybe they could find time in September.