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posted: 6/29/2013 5:00 AM

New approach needed on pensions

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It was in March of this year when a prediction was made that Illinois would probably exceed $100 billion in pension debt sometime in the month, which amounts to a huge and reckless shortfall in money owed to current and future retired teachers, judges, state workers, and even lawmakers themselves.

House Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton and Gov. Quinn are presently in a battle of wits to pass pension reform that would, at best, cut the state's $100 billion unfunded liability by $21 billion.

Neither Madigan's House nor Cullerton's Senate proposals are true reforms that would solve Illinois's pension fiasco. Both would amount to kicking the can down the road to be readdressed at a time when Illinois is hopelessly bankrupted.

As was predicted, Gov. Quinn's directive for legislators to return to Springfield on Wednesday, June 19, to talk pension reform was a futile, nonproductive exercise which wasn't worth the per-session day rate of $43,000 charged to taxpayers.

What is needed is a thorough overhaul of the pension system. Keeping defined pension that forces government to make promises to retirees based on assumptions politicians can't keep has created an unmanageable, unaffordable and unpredictable pension system here in Illinois.

Republican Reps. Jeanne Ives and Tom Morrison are firm supporters of House Bill 3303 based on the plan of the Illinois Policy Institute which would reduce Illinois' unfunded liability by 46 percent; protect constitutionally guaranteed benefits already earned by retirees and current workers; and empower current workers -- not politicians -- to control retirement savings going forward.

Illinois can't continue along the same path.

Despite the outward appearance of Chicago, the inner core is broken and rife with corruption and just a few steps away from bankruptcy and complete financial ruin. Detroit has already succumbed. Chicago could conceivably be next in the not too distant future.

Nancy J. Thorner

Lake Bluff

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