On Nov. 6, Illinois voters should approve a constitutional amendment to make it more difficult for the General Assembly to increase public pension benefits. Voters have been given an unprecedented opportunity to help control their future tax obligations by voting yes on the pension amendment that will appear on the general election ballot.
An affirmative vote will simultaneously remind Illinois lawmakers they are on the hot seat to deliver additional public employee pension reforms necessary to remedy our state's run away pension costs. Amendment 49 would require the legislature to cast a three-fifths majority vote, instead of simple majority, to approve pension or retirement benefit increases for public employees and elected officials.
These little-noticed, incremental increases rarely have been the subject of controversy even though the accumulating affect of these actions has been to impose billions of dollars of debt upon Illinois residents. It will also make it more difficult for politically powerful special interest groups to use their resources to secure questionable benefit "sweeteners."
Beyond curbing benefit increases, lawmakers will need to look at solutions that strike at the heart of the problem and deal with the massive pension shortfall. Any solution must also address current employees' future retirement benefits. While we should safeguard benefits already earned by state workers, real reform is impossible without restructuring future benefits to sustainable levels.
Voters can send a message to their legislators about the importance of pension reform by passing Amendment 49 with an overwhelming majority. By adequately addressing our pension burden together, we can restore fiscal health to state and local governments and give Illinois businesses, workers and families confidence that our state has a long-term solution in place that will allow us to prosper today and in the future. Doug Whitley
President & CEO
Illinois Chamber of Commerce