I’m all for paying my fair share. However, proposed Illinois state pension reform goes beyond fair share into highway robbery. The current $32,000/year average (also the U.S. average) pension is far from a windfall. The proposed reform would ruthlessly violate workers’ constitutional rights to our pensions. We have paid generously into our pension fund and have planned our lives around what we’ve been promised.
There’s no way to go back now and save more money. I have personal, urgent reasons for retiring as planned after 30 years of service involving health concerns and writing full time. I have sacrificed and saved, stayed out of debt and remained in a small duplex. There have been other sacrifices along the way, including working contractually for years until earning my position (years that don’t count toward retirement and which required paying out of pocket for expensive health insurance) and not being able to more broadly apply my wealth of fiscal knowledge given the restraints of my job title.
However, I’ve spoken up when unfairness went too far. This is one of those times. Pension reform should look at other additional funding sources instead of going deeper into worker (and retiree) pockets. At the very least it should be phased in gradually, similar to recent pension reform in England. Learning from other states in more stable economic positions with fair pensions, as well as Illinois welfare-to-work program rejuvenation are other solution-oriented ideas.
Michelle K. Sullivan
With the recent budget proposal from Gov. Quinn and the appearance of Gov. Scott Walker, the cry of “Don’t cut my funding” has flooded all forms of media. It really should be “Don’t cut my funding, raise everyone’s taxes....again.”
Illinois is still in a financial black hole, even though they doubled the income tax.
It’s painfully obvious that Illinois legislators haven’t really tried cutting funding before, so this is a new concept. It isn’t a matter of whether the programs are worthy of our tax dollars; the state just doesn’t have the revenue. Our legislators have robbed Peter to pay Paul for decades.
That leaves only a few real options to bring the state out of the black hole: making program cuts, raising additional revenue and/or pushing the liabilities (school pensions) to a different taxing body (school districts).
There will be funding cuts, additional taxes (tobacco, alcohol and income) and reassigment of teacher pensions. The sin taxes will definitely be increased. The income tax is the only steady source of revenue. Forcing teacher pensions onto school districts will likely force some school districts into bankruptcy, but at least the legislators won’t have to worry about it anymore.
Regarding your April 26 article, “Where would Jesus park?”: What would Jesus do if he knew that scandals like child abuse are basically ignored by church leadership while that same male leadership goes after religious women? I believe Jesus would call that a witch hunt, a diversion from the real issues affecting the church. The bully Paprocki is attempting to play the vampire hunter. But who is the real vampire? Shame on this bishop, he is trying to take the church back to the dark ages by going after women in leadership roles.
WHY TO LIE
Regarding “Don’t lie to your doctor,” by Neil Schneider, April 19: Many people don’t provide full disclosure of their conditions to a physician because of the specter of pre-existing exclusions from insurance coverage coming back to haunt them in some unanticipated way in the future. Whatever the doctor is writing in that file or typing on that keyboard while you’re talking is in your file – discoverable by insurance companies – for the rest of your life. Many if not most patients are at least intuitively wary of this issue. This is another reason why our national health system needs to be fixed.