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posted: 2/15/2013 5:00 AM

Pension reform a moral issue

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Although pension reform has not been our highest priority as leaders of religious organizations in Illinois, we are writing to urge lawmakers to find a fair and effective solution to this urgent issue now. If the state's unfunded pension obligations are left unaddressed or even delayed, many of the other matters that have our highest concern will suffer immeasurably. And we believe that any solution must be fair to all public employees, reflecting appreciation for their public service and providing for their secure retirement.

That makes pension reform a moral issue of great importance in itself and for what it portends in relation to the adequate funding of programs on which all residents of Illinois depend for their life and health, for the education of their children, for their social and economic well-being individually, as families, and communities.

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We profess no expertise in the field of pension financing. We can only plead that any adopted plan be based on rigorous actuarial analysis, provide a long-term solution, and avoid leaving public employees with low pension benefits in poverty, even if that requires ongoing means testing and adjustable benefits in order to meet their basic financial needs. However questionable the processes and solutions for pensions have been in the past, we are concerned that public employees themselves not be demonized in the current deliberations. The sins of commission and omission that have led to our current situation must be shared by a wider circle of political leaders and citizens.

We trust that lawmakers will be guided by a strong sense of public morality as they now address this issue that has been so long in the making.

Paloma Cabetas

on behalf of members of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago

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