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Article posted: 5/15/2013 5:00 AM

Pension solution needs careful thought

With respect to your editorial Sunday on Illinois' pension problem, one thing is very clear: There is a huge distrust in this state of our legislators in Springfield. To those who say we should ignore how we got here, I say that is impossible. What difference does it make? It makes a big difference because the people of Illinois should not stand for new pension legislation written behind closed doors and voted on at the last minute. Further, the final bill should be posted for at least 72 hours so retirees, union leaders and taxpayers can study the full impact.

Those who say that the state constitution states that pension benefits "shall not be diminished or impaired" forget that the same guarantee does not apply to health benefits. The health benefit area may be a place for significant cost savings for the state to offset what reductions are not possible in the pension stalemate.

About Speaker Michael Madigan's statement that a cost shift to local school districts and municipalities is inevitable at some point, one can only hope an independent analysis would first take place as to the impact on local property taxes; at the very least any possible cost shift should be preceded by separate, ironclad property tax cap legislation. And the idea of having a cost shift to local school districts and municipalities without a transfer of negotiation power to these same districts from the state is totally irresponsible and cannot be allowed to happen.

Maybe the best solution is to push for federal legislation allowing individual states to go bankrupt, and then if all interested parties can't come to an agreement let the courts sort it out and hope for the best solution for everyone.

Michael Howard


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