Pat Devaney's response to Jake Griffin's story of March 13 on the International Municipal Retirement Fund illustrates the problem with public pensions. He makes a strong case why firefighters' pensions should not be cut and why elected officials need to consider their own pensions as well.
I hope he is as strong of an advocate for teachers' pensions as he is for firefighters because all of the arguments he makes are also applicable to the teachers issue. It's just that the teachers have been on the front line of the fight for a longer time while municipal workers, including police and fire, and federal workers as well, have maneuvered below the radar until recently.
I realize the teachers represent a larger dollar issue due to their greater numbers but all public pensions should be created equal. I'm not advocating for or against cutting some pension benefits, but unless the legislatures and taxpayers are willing to "pay up and shut up," there will have to be some cuts — like it or not. These cuts need to be across the board including all state, federal and municipal employees, and don't scapegoat the teachers and walk away. I know "grand bargains" are difficult, but no one wants to be the only sacrificial lamb and there are clearly diametrically opposing views as with the deficit.
Since the discussions in Illinois seem to be going nowhere, maybe it's time to address all public pensions at the same time.
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