Teacher unions came out in force at a town hall meeting in Aurora on Wednesday to voice their opposition to pension reform legislation.
They blame fiscal irresponsibility of state leaders for creating the fiscal mess and massive pension liability that is sucking funds from services and squeezing every penny out of taxpayers.
And, teacher unions are correct that for years, the state has underfunded pensions.
However, it's important to note that teacher unions and most of its members have repeatedly supported and voted for the same state leaders, including political mafia thugs Michael Madigan, Lisa Madigan, Pat Quinn, John Cullerton and Rod Blagojevich, pumping money into those same people that made the promises.
Like a ponzi scheme, let's just hope someone down the line (taxpayers) will magically find a way to pay for it all.
Teacher unions now say that instead of stopping or even changing the pension ponzi scheme, the solution is to just raise more revenue with tax increases and closing "loopholes." They claim that any attempt to alter their levels of benefits is "unconstitutional" and "immoral.
Their solution instead is that taxpayers should be forced to pay more, including the wealthy, corporations, financial transactions and even online hotel bookings.
Daily Herald reports:
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, joined state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, at East Aurora High School to brainstorm solutions to the state's underfunded teacher pensions conundrum.
Nekritz is the one of the chief sponsors of a bill that would partly address the problem by shifting more of the pension burden onto local school districts. That idea has local taxpayers fearing a storm of local tax increase referendums by local school boards.
Retired teachers and local Aurora residents had their own ideas for Nekritz and Chapa LaVia on Wednesday. All the ideas carried a theme similar to battle recently seen with the fiscal cliff tug-of-war in Congress. Teachers said Illinois doesn't have a pension problem; it has a revenue problem. To earn more revenue the state must either create new taxes or close tax loopholes for the wealthy, they said.
Some of the ideas that earned favorable comment by Nekritz and Chapa LaVia included ending a $85 million tax subsidy for the CME Group. CME operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and, along with Sears, threatened to leave Illinois in 2011 during a temporary increase in corporate taxes. Nekritz said she agreed that, despite CME's threats, it's doubtful it would leave the state if the subsidy were rescinded.
The state lawmakers also expressed interest in a plan to create a $1 financial transactions tax. This would, for example, charge $1 for every futures contract purchase and $1 for every sale. Such transactions typically involve thousands of dollars of value being exchanged.
Even with those ideas in the mix, Nekritz said she wasn't backing away from her cost-shift proposal. Audience members said her plan will result in poor districts having even less money. But Nekritz said the cost shift would restore some balance in the funding between poor and relatively wealthy school districts.
She said general state aid, used to help fund poorer districts, is only about $4.3 billion, compared with the $7 billion the state puts into teacher pension funding. Nekritz said that is an unfair balance because the pension funds act as a subsidy for wealthier districts, which pay their teachers much higher salaries without worrying about the long-term pension burden.
Event was organized by John Laesch.
We strongly credit State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia and State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who are sponsors of the legislation, for being willing to have an open discussion on this important issue.
All current and recently local elected state senators and reps were invited as well. State Senator-Elect Jim Oberweis who has considerable financial knowledge, attended.
Stephanie Kifowit, the party girl elected as state rep for the 84th District, did not attend because she didn't have permission from her Sugar Daddy, Michael Madigan, to speak.
Angie Smith, West Aurora School Board member, expressed concern about the cost-shift and impact on local school districts.
Shauna Wiet, Aurora resident and new board member of the Aurora Housing Authority, asked why Chicago taxpayers are not paying as much in property taxes as suburbs for schools and reportedly said "maybe it's because Michael Madigan is from Chicago."