Public employees have to start facing reality

“You’re great employees and I swore you’d always have jobs here, but I can’t afford to stay open any longer. I’m going to have to declare bankruptcy.” -- declaration heard too often in recent years Promises, promises. You want to keep them, but sometimes you just can’t, due to forces beyond your control. Over the last few years, millions of American workers have lost jobs and benefits in the private sector, because financial conditions made it impossible for employers to keep them. Others have had to accept increased hours and reductions in pay and benefits. In some ways, they were the lucky ones. For Americans struggling to make ends meet, the unwillingness of some public employees to accept realistic limits to their own compensation is irksome. Who foots the bill for the salaries and benefits of public workers? Taxpayers, that’s who: taxpayers forced to cut back as their fortunes worsen. A lawsuit initiated by former Fifth District Appellate Court Judge Gordon Maag takes the “all about me” cake. Maag is challenging a new law that requires retired state workers to begin paying premiums for their health insurance. Prior to the passage of the law last summer, health insurance premiums of state retirees were paid by us, the taxpayers. Here’s the thing: Illinois has one of the worst economies of any state in the union and one of the most indebted state governments. Should we continue spending money we don’t have, increasing taxes, and thereby reducing our revenue base as more and more of our productive citizens and businesses relocate elsewhere? Or should we finally try to get a handle on our bloated budget and renege on some of the ridiculous promises our irresponsible politicians made to get themselves reelected? Sorry, retired Judge Gordon Maag, but you should start paying for your health insurance premiums. The taxpayers can’t afford them anymore, because your public payroll brethren have ruined our state’s economy.

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