Illinois needs real pension reform

Illinois House Bill 3303 has recently been called a distraction, and that’s unfortunate.

It is a bill that would freeze public sector benefits to date and going forward would include employees into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. The true distraction is the notion that there are only two options to fix the state’s most broken public pension system. Taxpayers and public sector employees must understand that if either House Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan, Senate President John Cullerton’s plan or some compromise bill were to pass, we’ll still need a thorough overhaul of the pension system in the near future.

The Madigan and Cullerton plans just delay the day of reckoning. They both maintain the status quo that requires all Illinois citizens and businesses to guarantee the retirement benefits of the public sector workers in the five state-run plans, regardless of market performance, future economic conditions, population levels, etc.

I was sworn into office over two years ago, and the unfunded pension liability then was $86 billion. Back then, newspapers across the state rightly called for major and immediate reforms. Today, the pension reform bill that’s being lauded as “real reform,” the Madigan bill, simply rolls back our unfunded pension liabilities back to 2010 levels. This was a time when we still had a pension crisis! Who would call that progress?

We must adopt a plan that actually moves us much farther down the road to fairness for all parties and long-term predictability and sustainability. I strongly believe that HB3303 achieves that goal, and I’ll continue to speak up for my constituents who agree with me.

— State Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine

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