The media are oversimplifying the reasons why some Republicans voted against the pension reform bill. They are still not reporting on any of the critical details.
The pension bill, SB 01, does not add up. Here are some of the reasons why I voted against the bill.
1. This bill was not transparent. It was designed and drafted by legislative leaders behind closed doors. Legislators received the 325 page bill on Monday afternoon (12/2/13) and were forced to vote on it on Tuesday afternoon (12/3/13). We never had a chance to analyze the bill. It reminded me of Obamacare. We were supposed to “Pass the bill to see what was in it.”
2. Of the roughly $160 billion plan, only $92 billion are projected to be actual savings not attributed to accounting gimmicks. Of that actual savings, 60-70% will not be realized until 2040-2045 IF we keep a balanced budget and "live within our means" until then. The State has NOT balanced a budget in years and we have not come even close to living within our means. It will never happen, therefore the savings will never occur. Speaker Mike Madigan’s outside source came up with the total savings figures and it has NEVER been confirmed by COGFA (Commission on Government Forecasting & Accountability) or any other government agency that would be held accountable for the figure.
3. This bill guarantees pensions will take top priority and be paid first - before other essential state services. Since we do not have the money to make these payments, and due to the fact that the legislative leaders REFUSE to cut any wasteful spending, that means they will INCREASE TAXES to adhere to this new law.
4. Only 10% of the projected savings are allocated to paying down future pension debt and 90% of savings are available to spend on other items. If the whole point of this bill is to solve our “unfunded pension liability,” shouldn’t those numbers be reversed? Shouldn't 90% of savings be allocated towards paying down future pension payments and 10% available for other items?
5. About $1.2 billion dollars will be available for Governor Quinn to spend. Why would we give our current governor over $1 billion dollars to spend at election time? He will be using this money as his own personal campaign fund. While we are broke the governor will be giving away money and cutting ribbons on a weekly basis.
6. Governor Quinn will submit his new budget in February. He will now use these unsubstantiated numbers to increase his spending even though we have not received the money yet. This legislation will be tied up in the courts for the unforeseen future. This will put us even further in debt.
7. Legislative leaders and editorial boards have said the bill is, “very similar” to Speaker Madigan’s previous pension reform bill. Many of these comments were based on Speaker Madigan’s own press releases. If that is the case, why was the bill re-drafted, what took so long to make all the changes, and why are there at least 100 new pages in the bill?
This is a bad bill for the State of Illinois and is not how we should reform pensions. Madigan orchestrated the whole deal and it was passed in typical Madigan fashion. Madigan has done this to us before – and he is doing it again. My job is not to make Speaker Mike Madigan’s life easy and follow his direct orders. My role is to fight for the people of Illinois, ask the tough questions, and not get pressured into supporting critical bills like this until they are fully vetted.