“Massive layoffs and pay cuts are likely coming to state and local governments as federal aid goes elsewhere,” says a CNBC headline. It’s easy to find headlines like that across the country now. “The only answer for the states, counties and cities that want to survive is to slash budgets now — probably 30 to 50 percent — eliminate all nonessential spending and reduce taxes today,” said a column this month in The Hill.

But Illinois is going ahead with a pay raise for about 40,000 unionized state workers of 2.1 percent starting July 1, as reported by WBEZ.

Why?

Because it’s in their union-negotiated contract, Governor JB Pritzker says. “If you look at the four years of no raises and the negotiated raises in those contracts, they’re very reasonable for the taxpayers,” Pritzker said. By contrast, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo invoked his emergency powers this month to defer state employee pay raises in that state, said WBEZ.

Pritzker obviously should be asking the unions to voluntarily suspend the pay raises. For everybody else, unemployment is approaching Great Depression levels and tens of millions more have had their income slashed.

And if public workers decline, he can and should ignore the contract and let them sue.

That’s because contracts can be adjusted when a crisis such as this makes full contract performance unreasonable. If ever there is a time when the “police power” applies, allowing governments to suspend or modify their contract obligations, it is now. That’s the same principle that we’ve explained often in connection with pension reform. The Illinois Supreme Court declined to apply it for pension reform, basing its decision largely on the pension protection clause, which is separate. However, the doctrine is firmly established for other purposes.

Pritzker made clear from the start who wouldn’t sacrifice in this crisis: state workers.

Way back on March 15, Pritzker quietly announced, buried in a press release about something else, that state workers would continue to be paid in full and receive full pension accruals even if they are at home and not working at all. Similarly, he announced that school teachers could get the same regardless of whether they were teaching remotely, which he left to school districts. Many teachers – most, I suspect – are working very hard to teach remotely. But some are making little or no effort. Many get paid the same either way.

“Shared sacrifice?” Uh-uh.

– Mark Glennon

 

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Poor Taxpayer
6 months ago

The Greedy Cops, Teachers and Firemen do NOT PAY STATE OF ILLINOIS INCOME TAXES. They take the money but do not contribute to the state. Good deal for them, Terrible deal for the honest hard working taxpayers. As my teacher friend ($130,000 per year) told me if I did not like it I can move.

Mark Durante
6 months ago

Our governor is not a governor is a illiterate man they gotten into the office because of his financial golden spoon he wants Tierney and power unfortunately doesn’t know how to handle himself now alone a state I hope people realize how serious this is in a dire financial condition the state is In
Please Mr. Trump no money to the state of Illinois it must be reform pension systems and the rest the government sector and public employees pensions and pay are out of control we must claim bankruptcy eliminate this useless governor.

James
6 months ago
Reply to  Mark Durante

“Inka dinka dee….” “Stop da music, stop da music.” “Everybody’s gettin’ inta da act.” “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”

Poor Taxpayer
6 months ago

All government workers should get a raise for staying at home and not working.
They should not have to go to work not to work, they should not work at home.
If you do not like it you can just move.

nixit
6 months ago

What’s preventing the state from clawing back these raises via a furlough? Is there something in the contract that prevents temporary layoffs? If so, that’s on JB.

Illinois Entrepreneur
6 months ago

We all know what the democrat’s priorities are, and they’re not going to change them now. When it comes to taxpayers vs. public employee unions, name one time that taxpayers won in this state? Oh, during Bruce Rauner’s administration. Yeah, and the voters voted him out for it. So there isn’t even a political will with the VOTERS in this state. Sue all you want, stomp your feet, but the fact is that the public unions are better at this game than we are. They already have their grass roots organized, their politicians bought and in fear, and nothing will… Read more »

Jagdish
6 months ago

Public sector unions have a monopoly. They can hold out until they get what they want (ex. Teachers union and the last strike). How can you compete with that irregardless of the way you vote?

michael marek
6 months ago

AMEN…”All in Illinois” is not even suitable for a cheap bumper sticker

Actuary1058
6 months ago

It is very clear that our society is divided into two classes. Public sector unionized workers, and everyone else. With the former explicitly benefiting at the expense of the latter.

Flash413
6 months ago
Reply to  Actuary1058

As a relatively new reader, I have a question that has been undoubtedly answered before for which I apologize. This question is not rhetorical.
Why does the average working stiff labor for about 45 years before they can enjoy retirement while a public servant can retire after 30?

Actuary1058
6 months ago
Reply to  Flash413

Don’t you see, it’s because they are better than us and therefore deserve special treatment

Thomas Berry
6 months ago
Reply to  Flash413

The above answer is wrong. The “public servants” can reply from multiple jobs after less than 20 years (each) and receive full pensions from them all.

Actuary1058
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Berry

So some can retire even earlier with larger pensions?

Joan
6 months ago
Reply to  Flash413

Because for decades politicians traded pension promises for political support from public unions.

michael marek
6 months ago
Reply to  Actuary1058

amen..well said..feudal lords (public sector workers) and the rest of us serfs (taxpayers)

UnclePugsly
6 months ago

To Pritzker and other Chicago Democrats, taxpayers are the ‘Patsy’ – first to be hustled and dead last to get any crumbs.

Daskoterzar
6 months ago

Couldn’t agree more. There is no excuse for this. To proceed with these unearned/earned raises at a time when 1.5M illinois residents are affected by the stay at home rules and 755,000 Illinois residents applied for unemployment between March 1 and April 18 is ridiculous. The state is royalty and is basically telling us “let them eat cake”. With this many of our fellow citizens out of work and struggling, to award a RAISE is pathetic and clearly illustrates the disdain government workers and our elected officials have for the people of Illinois. Are we really in this together? I… Read more »

6 months ago

Common law provides for a “force majeure” release from contracts. If the Illinois public employees’ pension plan isn’t per se bankrupt, the coronavirus pandemic is the ideal force majeure opportunity to have a court of equity make long overdue and necessary a corrective amendment. As the expressions go “the Illinois Constitution is not a suicide pact” and ” a crisis is terrible thing to waste”.

JimBob
6 months ago
Reply to  Herb Caplan

But the union contracts call for continued pay if a job is lost due to “act of God.” The bureaucrats hastened to declare such an act as soon as stay-home orders were issued. Admittedly the union contract is just another contract that bankruptcy could avoid but the state will block municipal bankruptcy and Federal law precludes a state’s filing. Send some letters of support to Sen. McConnell.

Freddy
6 months ago

Shared Sacrifice ONLY applies to taxpayers. Public union members have exempted themselves. Shall not impair or diminish applies only to public pensions not taxpayers retirement accounts as I just noticed when opening my 1st quarter statements which was diminished yet my property tax bill increased.

S and P 500
6 months ago

The unions are committing suicide. It’s like the girl in the PBS Nova show about the diabetes epidemic. She was told to change her lifestyle and diet–or else. She didn’t and now she’s on kidney dialysis. Good grief, if you want some motivation to cut down on sugar than watch that show. How do you motivate lawmakers and unions to bring their budgets under control. You could mention Greece or Detroit but their reaction is total denial.

https://www.pbs.org/video/blood-sugar-rising-americas-hidden-diabetes-epidemic-ykytq2/