The Daily Herald Editorial Board missed the mark when it argued that "Illinois lawmakers find themselves on the eve of a rare opportunity to redeem themselves" by supporting a House-backed pension bill. Redemption implies deliverance or rescue, yet the pension bill championed by House Speaker Michael Madigan would force Illinois to double-down on the same broken pension system that got the state into this mess in the first place. Far from solving the problem, it would knock only $20 billion off the state's nearly $100 billion unfunded liability. Illinois would revert to where it was just two short years ago, which was bad enough for the Daily Herald Editorial Board to deem the situation at the time a "crisis."
It isn't fair to ask Illinoisans to guarantee an inherently uncontrollable defined-benefit system. It isn't affordable to keep a pension payment ramp that continues to squeeze out core government services. It isn't a sign of appreciation to lock workers into a pension plan that denies them the freedom to invest for their own future as they see fit. Voters send legislators to Springfield to do the right thing -- not the politically expedient thing designed only to relieve immediate political and financial pressure.
Rep. Tom Morrison and his colleagues who support a real solution based on a 401(k)-style transition should be applauded and encouraged, not lectured and shooed offstage. Madigan plan or not, the pension system will continue to deteriorate and the state will once again require bold reforms, the kind that Morrison and others have laid the groundwork for with their prescient and principled work.
Executive vice president
Illinois Policy Institute