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posted: 12/9/2013 5:00 AM

Retirees are unfairly paying the price

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We're often told that education is the key to our future, and that's true. But the people who served the needs of our students in the past are also part of our future. For that reason the Illinois Retired Teachers Association will join other public worker organizations in filing suit to stop enactment of illegal and radical changes to the Illinois public pension laws.

The Illinois Constitution protects public workers' pensions as sacrosanct, enforceable contracts, the benefits of which cannot be impaired or diminished. In their scholarly wisdom 43 years ago, the constitutional delegates recognized the proclivity of legislators to ignore obligations to men and women who serve the public.

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Pensions are not gifts. They represent earned compensation benefits deferred to workers who kept their end of the bargain. Retirement benefits are deferred salary. Imagine the outrage if an employer decided he couldn't -- because of bad business practice on his part -- fulfill his commitment to pay his employees.

Yet that's exactly what's happening to Illinois public workers. General Assemblies for decades have irresponsibly ignored their obligations to public pensions. In response to their own fiscal recklessness, innocent retirees are being told their pensions must be radically reduced.

It is for moral purpose as well as fiscal prudence that the retired teachers will ask the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn this effort and restore fairness and security to men and women who spent their careers to build a better future for us as well as our children.

Gary Elmen

President

Illinois Retired Teachers Association

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