To the Editor:
As we move towards the vote on the tax amendment, we are unfortunately seeing voters line up by partisanship. Democrats are arguing for the “fair tax,” while Republicans oppose giving legislators a “blank check.”
Shenanigans which have left Illinois in such dire financial straits have been going on for the last 40 years. True, Mike Madigan has been speaker of the House for all but two of those years. But, it’s important to remember that budgets and legislation for 26 of those years were signed by Republican governors. And, for 10 years Republicans also controlled the state Senate.
A large part of the Illinois deficit is caused by the underfunded state pensions. State law required teachers to contribute their share monthly for retirement. The General Assembly was supposed to match that. Instead, the money often was diverted to other areas to the re-election benefit of legislators of both parties. State grants provided for the purchase of goods and services for the folks back home.
To compound the problem, the GA allowed for early retirement schemes to help lower salary costs for school districts and local units of government. When the actuaries made their original calculations on the pension systems, they were not aware that many retirees would be receiving pensions for five to 10 years earlier than planned.