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posted: 1/5/2013 5:00 AM

Pension problem hurting businesses

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The members of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors call upon the General Assembly to enact meaningful structural public employee pension reform now. No issue confronting our state is more important due to the devastating economic impact that the current pension system is wreaking on state and local government and the investment climate in Illinois. Each day, we and our peers, both within and outside of Illinois, make investment decisions that have long-term economic effects. These decisions can create jobs and economic vibrancy that will have a multiplier effect on the quality of life in Illinois. Unfortunately, the shadow cast by the economic overhang of the current pension system deters such investments.

To restore Illinois' reputation as a world-class business destination and end the fiscal crisis now burdening economic development and job creation efforts, the General Assembly must act immediately to fix the state's overwhelming unfunded pension liability.

The Chamber believes meaningful and substantive pension reform includes: eliminating or limiting cost-of-living increases; instituting a pensionable salary cap; increasing the retirement age; and shifting the financial responsibility for local, or employer, pension obligations from the state of Illinois to local governments over time. We believe this shift creates a necessary alignment of accountability between units of government negotiating worker benefits and those responsible for paying for them.

Illinois has arrived at a critical crossroads and our economic future is at stake. All stakeholders, including labor, business, elected officials and taxpayers, need to come together to solve this pension crisis that threatens irreparable harm to our future.

We urge you to pass comprehensive public pension reform without delay.

Scott C. Swanson

Chair

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce board

Mark Segal

Chair, Chicagoland Chamber Public Policy Committee

and 53 other board members

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