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Reeder: Letter to Gov. Quinn on lack of Illinois’ pension reform

Where’s the plan, Pat?

I mean come on, governor, you’ve been talking a good game about solving the state’s pension problem. But we don’t know how you want to solve it.

We’ve seen the goofy video you put out with “Squeezy the Pension Python.” We have heard you say you were “put on this earth” to solve the pension crisis.

Could that be some of that trademark Pat Quinn hyperbole? Or should we take it as a sign of your earnest desire to tackle a tough issue?

Regardless, we don’t know what you want to do because we haven’t seen any legislation. After four years in office, you have yet to provide a detailed proposal for how to reform the pension system. Oh, sure, there have been press releases and bullet-point presentations, but nothing detailed enough to present to the Legislature as your solution.

You say it needs to be done. We wait and wait for the details.

As you know, governor, under new accounting standards, the state pension systems are going to be underfunded to the tune of $200 billion – or more.

Illinois has the worst-funded pension systems of any in the nation.

And, yet, governor, none of your friends in the Legislature have introduced a pension reform bill on your behalf.

In fact, governor, you told us in November that you expected pension reform to happen by Jan. 9, 2013. That’s just a few days away, and we still haven’t heard your plan. Do you have one? Please speak up.

Illinoisans are well aware of the perils that a lame-duck session, like the one coming up, can bring.

It was almost two years ago when another lame-duck Legislature did your bidding, governor, and passed a 67 percent income-tax increase.

Although we were told the new revenue would go toward “paying bills,” almost every dime of the tax increase was dumped into the state’s failing pension system.

That’s the equivalent of trying to keep a leaky bucket full by continually pouring water into it. Somewhere along the line, a repair needs to be made.

Governor, you’ve said the pension system needs to be fixed so that money can be freed up for other government programs.

Here’s an idea, governor: How about fixing the pension system and lowering taxes so that ordinary Illinoisans can save for their own retirements and their own children’s college educations?

The 67 percent tax increase equates to the government confiscating a whole week of pay from every working Illinoisan.

People work hard for their money. No one wants to see it get dumped into a failing system.

And yet that is what is happening.

Governor, the taxpayers of Illinois deserve to see your legislation.

Would you please speak up and tell us what you want?

• Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute. Readers can subscribe to his free reports from the Springfield by going to reederreport.com. He can be reached at sreeder@illinoispolicy.org.

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