Guidelines for pension reform
I believe most people would understand that something must be done to reform the pension system in Illinois. However, there are some issues that must be considered in the reform.
1. First and foremost, whatever is done to alter public pensions must be applied to elected officials as well as public employees. That includes the governor and state legislators. For the legislature to do otherwise would be self-serving and not in the best interest of the state. Lead by example. The pensions of elected officials are part of the problem.
2. The state must honor the promises it has made to public employees who have retired under state pension systems. To do otherwise would be unfair to those who have planned their retirement lives around the pension they were promised.
3. The state of Illinois says it wants a world class educational system. If we truly mean that, then we are going to have to pay for it. You know the old saying, "You get what you pay for." You cannot reduce teachers' pensions and expect to attract the most intelligent and most qualified people into the teaching profession. Quality doesn't come cheap. A state pension for teachers is a way to reward quality teachers for remaining in the teaching profession when many could go elsewhere and make more money.
4. While teacher salaries are respectable in Illinois, they are by no means going to make anyone wealthy (except for those who have found ways to abuse the system). One thing that must be done is to eliminate all avenues to abuse the teachers' retirement system and other state retirement systems.
5. Respect the lives of those that will be affected by any change in state pensions.