|Fixing the crisis
Politicians and unions should stop trying to guilt Illinoisans into paying more to pensions through ever-higher taxes. The real problem is, and always has been, the enormous growth in benefits.
If Illinois is to regain control of its finances, retain its taxpayers and grow its economy, pension liabilities need to be cut.
But with recalcitrant unions and an inflexible constitutional clause standing in the way, lawmakers must employ new tactics. They can freeze salaries, reduce headcounts and cut the subjects of collective bargaining in order to reduce future payouts.
Illinois’ government unions will then have a choice. They can either negotiate with lawmakers to restore those cuts in consideration for a reduction in pension benefits, or they can live with the changes.
But make no mistake, those changes won’t end the crisis. Irresponsible increases in benefits leave no choice but to cut benefits further, which will require either a constitutional amendment or federal bankruptcy.
Obstacles to those options are a discussion for another day, but for now it's time to end the narrative that forces ordinary Illinoisans to shoulder the entire burden of fixing the pension crisis.
It's only fair.