Ty Fahner (Doomsday Puppeteer)
In a memorandum to fellow members of the Civic Committee, a bombastic screed carefully choreographed to achieve the widest impact on print and televised media, President Tyrone Fahner announced his belief that the Illinois pension system was now officially “unfixable” on Wednesday, November 14th.
Fahner’s Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, long a bastion of wealthy CEO’s fighting to curtail the collective bargaining rights of unions or the earnings of public employees, warned that legislators had lost the ability to make any significant headway on the “pension crisis” as they had waited too long.
Beginning with the premise that nothing would work at this point, a position unfettered by real or actuarial numbers, the Civic Committee president’s memorandum urges the immediate
Elimination of all cost of living increases
An immediate cap to pension salaries
An increase of the retirement age to 67
A shift of the annual costs to local districts/employees over a period of twelve or more years.
Fahner told Crains Business that the numbers are “there” in a binder over “an inch thick.”
Once again, Mr.. Fahner has initiated the charge on forced pension reform in Springfield, just as he has for the last several years. You’ll remember that Mr. Fahner, although not a member of the General Assembly was a co-author of SB512, and also a signer on the promise to get it right next time after the failure of the draconian bill to cut current and retired teachers’ benefits in 2011. If anyone would have an inside track on how pensions were underfunded to begin with, it would be Mr. Fahner, who served as an appointed Attorney General of Illinois under Governor “Big Jim” Thompson, who managed the pension holiday program effectively to the point that the funded ration for pensions dropped from 90% to 30%.
But, wait a minute! Perhaps this time Fahner’s numbers are based upon some real insight, not just another attempt to generate a better playing field for those many companies in the Civic Committee who already enjoy tax loopholes, giveaways, and breaks provided by Governor Quinn and the General Assembly.
Maybe, just maybe, Fahner is realizing that the problem IS a revenue problem, not a pension problem. Maybe he knows, just as Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability warned, that all the proposed cuts thus far would only account for about 25% of the problem. Indeed, that the legislators will just have to come back for more from the taxpayer, even if the General Assembly passed all the cuts on the backs of the public sector who already gave their required amounts over the decades.
We can expect more drumming and dire predictions from the Civic Committee, but remember that real reform will come with a change in revenue and a promise kept to pay the promises made in Article XIII, section 5.