Illinois’ Proposed Pension ‘Reform’ is a Rotten Deal for Taxpayers

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CHICAGO—The so-called “pension reform plan” being pushed through by Ill. Sen. Pres. John J. Cullerton (D), Ill. House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D), Senate Minority Leader Christine Rodogno (R), and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin is being kept a secret from legislators and taxpayers, but smells like a rotten deal for taxpayers, according to the President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
“Cullerton, Madigan, Rodogno, and Durkin are trying to cram a bad bill down the throats of taxpayers by keeping it from review by legislators and taxpayers alike,” said Jim Tobin, TUA President. “Their secrecy and their new-found sense of urgency tell me that they have found a way to kowtow to the union bosses who keep them in power and pass the cost to the taxpayers before they know what hit them.”
“According to the limited details that have been released regarding the agreement between the Illinois power brokers, there is very little reform to the system that has been bankrupting the state and burdening taxpayers. This proposal shifts even more of the cost of these lavish, multi-million dollar pensions to the taxpayers and provides additional guarantees to perpetuate a system that has decimated Illinois’ budget.”
“It seems that reelection is more important to some Illinois legislators than providing real reform for lavish, gold-plated government pensions.”
“Immediate and real pension reform is long-overdue. Ending pensions for all new government hires will eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions,” said Tobin. “New government hires should plan for their own retirements by being placed in Social Security and 401(k)-style plans.”
“Furthermore, if each government employee were required to contribute an additional 10% toward his or her pension, taxpayers would save $150 billion over the next 35 years. Instead, the proposed plan shifts even more cost away from the employees to the taxpayers.”
“Finally, requiring Illinois government employees and retirees to pay for one half of their healthcare premiums would save even more – an estimated $230 billion over current projections.”
“This proposed deal stinks and is nothing more than political cover for the government bureaucrats who seek reelection.”

Red-Light Cameras Rake In Money For Cities As They Increase Accidents

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CHICAGO—Red-light cameras are a scam whose only purpose is to generate millions of dollars for cities and towns, and, furthermore, actually increase accidents, not decrease them, according to Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America.
“Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel must have felt a tingle go up his leg when he announced last week that red-light cameras would be coming Jan. 31 at 18 Chicago intersections,” said Tobin. “He is looking forward to the additional millions of dollars that will be funneled into city coffers to fund the lavish, gold-plated Chicago government-employee pensions.”
“Emanuel stated that such cameras have reduced accidents, but this is either a sign of ignorance, or a lie.”
“One report after another has shown the reverse is true: Red-light cameras increase accidents. But they also increase revenues for municipalities, which is why politicians love them.”
“The National Motorists Association website has a sampling of these studies.”

“Taxpayers are being nickel-and-dimed to death by greedy politicians, except we’re not talking about nickels and dimes. In addition to having to pay out big bucks, motorists are suffering increased injuries caused by rear-end collisions. Only politicians and orthopedic surgeons are benefiting.”

95% of Illinois Taxpayers Held Hostage by State Pension Cartel

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Chicago –Pension reform could be easy if there were no government-union bosses — and the votes they deliver — according to Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
“The entire State of Illinois has been brought to its knees by about 5% of its population,” said Rae Ann McNeilly, TUA executive director.
“The debt to accommodate this 5% has grown to 200% of the state’s annual budget. Using liberal actuarial standards, Illinois’ pension debt hits the $100 billion mark sometime this month, and that debt is created by the pension funds that serve only 5% of the state’s total population.”
“How is it that this 5% of the population has such total control over the entire state? Government unions. Government-union bosses deliver the votes to keep politicians in power. The state of Illinois is being held hostage by cowardly legislators who are so worried about the votes of the rank and file that they are willing to steal massive amounts of wealth from the rest of the state’s population to prop up a system that is a proven failure.”
“Pension reform could be relatively easy if we didn’t have government unions. We have reached the point where government unions have outlived their usefulness and are actually a threat to the entire state’s economy and general welfare.”
“There should be no Constitutional protection for union thugs who pillage the state’s coffers for the benefit of a few and the legislators who kowtow to their demands. There should be no more laws that protect this corrupt system of election quid pro quo.”
“None of the proposed pension reform bills even attempt to address the cause and effect that has brought the state to its knees. The current pension system places tremendous amounts of money in the hands of government bureaucrats who have never demonstrated responsibility with such assets.”
“Pensions, as we know them, rely on steady growth and prediction of the future. All across the country, these systems have failed. Pension reform that does not permanently eliminate the possibility of unfunded liabilities by replacing them with defined contribution retirement savings is a smokescreen and shows disregard for 95% of the state’s population.”
“The ‘Madigan bill’, being touted by Chicago machine boss and Ill. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), not only falls short of eliminating unfunded liabilities, but worse, it guarantees that no matter how outrageous the pension debt gets, taxpayers must pay the pension bill before all others. This bill actually affords even more protection to the 5% at the cost of the 95%.”
“The ‘Cullerton bill’, which Senate leader John Cullerton purports will provide ‘real and substantial reform for a generation to come’, falls short on nearly every level and relies on the employees making the choices between COLAs and hospitalization. Both need to be cut if we intend to stay afloat.”
“Neither of the proposed bills is a panacea or even provides a margin of relief to taxpayers. It’s time for lawmakers to do their job and fix this problem as though there were no government union bosses to appease. Pension reform can be that simple. Pass the laws necessary to do the job and pass a bill that gets a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that makes it legal to do what is in the best interest of 95% of the state.”
“Real pension reform must: 1. End pensions for new hires and implement a 401k type retirement savings program with no guarantees that hold taxpayers hostage. 2. Increase current employee pension contributions to reflect private sector levels. 3. End COLA’s entirely. 4. Raise the retirement age to 67 and continue to raise it as life expectancy increase. 5. Require all government employees and retirees to contribute 50% to their healthcare premiums.”
“And while we are at it, maybe we should ban government unions and Constitutional protections to special interest groups.”