While I have made statements explaining my vote against Madigan’s revised pension reform bill on both the House floor and via press release, I have been asked repeatedly for further explanation. So for the sake of additional clarity, I offer the following:
I refuse to adopt the attitude that any bill will do regardless of its principles and content. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal called out the IL GOP in an article entitled ‘Illinois’ Fake Pension Fix: “GOP leaders who are rounding up votes must be feeling especially charitable this holiday season because they're making an in-kind contribution to Mr. Quinn, who will claim a bipartisan victory as he runs for re-election… Such me-too thinking is why the Illinois GOP has become a useless minority.” There is no doubt that voting for any legislation dropped on the table is quickly moving us from “super-minority” to “irrelevant.”
But, what can we do? We can fight back. We can say, “This isn’t acceptable. This won’t solve the problem.We are selling people a bill of goods by saying this is reform.” Then, vote against it.
Apply some pressure to affect the changes we want to see instead of tripping over ourselves to be the first in line to congratulate Mike Madigan on his bi-partisan legislation. I know our party’s stance in the ILGA is to uphold fiscal responsibility and strong policy at every decision-point and with every talking point. Let’s not retreat from this mission.
As I have mentioned, I voted for pension reform. I voted, in May, for SB 1, a bill described as imperfect, but a first step. I voted for and have introduced other smaller pension reform bills. I provided the dissenting argument for a pension holiday for the City of Chicago that would have allowed them to skip pension payments for 2 more years. I am also a co-sponsor on a pension reform bill that would truly reform our state’s pension system. During my time in office, this crisis has been one of my main points of focus.
Yesterday, legislators voted for marginal reforms that put retiree pensions in jeopardy, are unaffordable for taxpayers, and erode our ability to balance budgets fairly. We do need pension reform immediately, but not just any pension reform – and certainly not this brand of reform.
Under Illinois Democrats, the state’s fiscal security, free-market productivity, and our ability to provide necessary services are in a freefall. Republicans who have the political courage to place Illinois back on a sustainable path in those areas currently control neither the House, Senate nor Governor’s Office. Until the people of Illinois find both the wisdom and the will to change that equation, Republicans in the House will struggle to arrest Illinois’ march into insolvency, bankruptcy and constitutional disintegration. It remains my conviction that the People of Illinois will see through the political fog and respond accordingly.
Every vote we take affirms or denies our children the liberties we have been afforded.