Is Illinois pension reform a done deal or a necessary task that still lies ahead?
Their opinions on this question form one of the clear-cut differences between Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman, 42, of Schaumburg and her crosstown Republican challenger Jim Moynihan, 61, as they vie for election in the 56th District this fall.
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Though Mussman concedes that Senate Bill 1 -- which she voted for -- was far from perfect, she does believe it will hold up to state constitutional scrutiny, based on her consultation with several attorneys.
Moynihan, on the other hand, believes the time that went into it was wasted and that even more time is being wasted while what he considers an inevitable decision against its legality is pending. And if the issue does return to the drawing board, he wants it to be handled differently.
Mussman said she recognizes that a big problem with the bill is that it's a "one-size-fits-all" solution that would affect state employees very differently. She added that, quite rightly, how it affects each person financially largely affects his or her reaction to the bill.
"There was no winning vote on that issue," Mussman said.
Though considering herself to be strongly for education, Mussman said she paid a price for her vote on the bill by losing the endorsement of the Illinois Education Assocation teachers union to Moynihan.
"Since I'm pro-education, I have to talk to people angered by my vote, but who may not fully understand what was and what was not in the bill," Mussman said.
Moynihan said that he wouldn't vote for any bill unless all stakeholders were at the table and it guaranteed the state pay its full portion every single year. He said he was particularly sensitive to the absence of teachers when Senate Bill 1 was being worked out.
"With everyone at the table, it doesn't become my intention, it becomes everyone's intention," Moynihan said.
He also believes that a 401(k) plan should be on the table during the next attempt to work out a reform plan.
Moynihan said his greater concern for protecting public employees' pensions is one of the differences between himself and fellow Republican Bruce Rauner, who's running for governor.
"I will work with all parties involved -- legislators, educators, state workers and taxpayers to find a fair solution to this growing crisis," Moynihan responded to a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire. "We need to keep the commitment to state workers who have been guaranteed retirement benefits for their years of work, while addressing a growing problem on behalf of taxpayers, before it gets any worse."