A response from Glen Brown to Crain’s Chicago Business.
We are tired of skewed coverage regarding so-called pension reform, and we are tired of the media’s omission of the most significant facts about public pension debt and anyone who talks or writes about “spending money on pensions overtakes spending on children’s education,” or the state’s bond ratings, cuts to services, and the siphoning of the state’s money from public safety and human services because of “failed pension reform.”
Every editorial, every article and interview, and every legislative session about Illinois public pension reform should begin with these statements:
The public pension systems were not and are still not the cause of the state’s budget deficits. The state’s budget deficits were triggered by past policymakers’ corruption, arrogance and irresponsibility and are currently perpetuated by some members of this General Assembly. The state’s pension debt and revenue problems need to become the emphasis. Why?
Because Illinois policymakers have consistently failed to make the annual required contributions to the state’s pension systems, primarily because they could pay for services and their “pet projects” without raising taxes and, in 1995, policymakers created a flawed re-funding schedule and have refused to correctly amortize the pension systems’ unfunded liabilities since then.
Instead, Illinois policymakers have favored corporate interests rather than the interests of their citizenry and; thus, they continue to sabotage the public employees’ retirement plans and the State of Illinois’ future economic solvency through mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility.
Illinois policymakers left us with a fiscal disaster, and so-called “pension reform” (or breaking a constitutional contract) will never resolve today’s $135+ billion unfunded liability. Had Illinois legislators paid into the pension systems throughout the years, we might actually be realizing pension savings.