On June 19, our state legislature reconvened in emergency session to deal with what everyone in the media calls a "pension crisis." It is as if this is the one part of the entire state budget that is causing all of Illinois' financial difficulties. It's not that simple! What we actually have is an overall revenue problem. Illinois just does not take in enough money to operate a well-functioning government.
My fear is that the multimillionaires from the "Commercial Club of Chicago" and think-tanks like them have managed to dupe many legislators and much of the media into thinking that cutting pensions — including my pension, for I am a retired state worker — is the most up-to-date thinking on the subject. Taking money away from the lower classes, for that is where we fit, is not the solution. If cuts are made to pensions, we will still have a huge budget crisis next year and for many years to come.
Taking money away from the lower classes only leads to greater poverty. Those of us in the lower classes spend most of our income in the local economy and thus revitalize it. The very rich will not do that. Many of them now park their money in the Cayman Islands, avoid taxes, and do not spend or invest it here.
I know that those who no longer have pensions, but only 401Ks which have lost a lot of money, may be resentful of those of us who do have pensions. Such an attitude is self-defeating. Less money to pensioners only leads to even greater contractions in our economy.
Here is where we stand as I write this. An alliance of unions representing public employees and pensioners has already made significant concessions to reach an agreement with Senate President John Cullerton, and that has already been passed by the Senate. But House Speaker Mike Madigan has so far refused to allow it to be put to a vote in the House of Representatives.
As a pensioner, I would be grateful to anyone who would call his/her state representative. Ask him or her to ask Mike Madigan to bring the Cullerton Bill to a vote in the House.