Thursday, July 4, 2013

From the Illinois Constitution on July 4, 2013

    No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts or making an irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, shall be passed.
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)

    Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)

    Each prospective holder of a State office or other State position created by this Constitution, before taking office, shall take and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation:
    "I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of .... to the best of my ability."
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)

From Fred Klonsky and Ken Previti – A Response to
Senator Daniel Biss by Terri Carroll

Dear Senator Biss,
As a retired teacher, I very much appreciate your update.
Especially on this date, I am reminded of how important it is to respect our Constitution – both the responsibilities and rights it affords us. I sincerely hope your committee does, indeed “respect(s) this clause,” as you note, and does not focus on finding a letter of the law means to circumvent such an important protection.  Everything contained within our Constitution was put there for a reason.  The intent of such a guarantee is abundantly clear.
It has been very popular to blame the pension for the fiscal woes of our state.  In truth, our state’s fiscal woes emanate from our legislators allowing pension payments not
to be made for decades.  This has robbed the retirees, not only of the required payments themselves, but of the interest that would have accrued on those payments.  This has literally taken money from our pockets.  This is the cause of the state’s fiscal woes.  No one, however, has tracked the years during which the required payments were not made, and held the legislators who were in office during those times to be accountable.  Instead, it has been more convenient to blame the pension and its recipients.  This is tantamount to blaming the rape victim.
In many cases, the public is now quite willing to blame the pension recipients for the state’s financial woes.  They also seem to believe we receive health insurance free of charge, and believe we also receive social security (to which many of us have fully paid our 40 quarters, but will receive no benefit.)
But here we are.  So what do we do?
1.  We honor our Constitution.  What a terrifying precedent we set if we do otherwise.  What other rights may be taken from us by opening that Pandora’s box?
2.  We do not take away the benefits of those who have already retired, calculating their ability to do so based on a contractual agreement with the State.
3. We restructure the debt so that we can meet our obligations.  This will truly guarantee that the “sacrifice” will be shared, and not just thrown on the backs of those who are already the victims of lost revenue.  We trusted our legislators to protect us.  They let us down for decades with no consequence to themselves.
If the State then believes there is a need to restructure the pension for new employees in collaboration with the unions, that is a discussion that must be had.  New employees will have 30 years to prepare.  That is a luxury current retirees do not have.
Please do not punish us again for a crime we did not commit.  It is sadly ironic that we must depend on the very body responsible for this debacle to help us. Worse yet, we must beseech them to do so.
Thank you for your attention.  May you all be divinely inspired to do the right thing.
Terri Carroll

Next public meeting of the Committee of Ten is on July 8, in Springfield, Capitol Bldg. 409.

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