The opinion site Zocala has a wonderful article today about how California pensions do the opposite of what progressives usually claim.  It’s about the “California Rule,” which is their term for a judicial rule that bars pension reform. Think of it as comparable to Illinois’ constitutional pension protection clause.

Read the article but substitute Illinois for California and most of it fits. In fact, the argument is stronger in Illinois.

Prohibiting pension reform, says the article:

[V]iolates the state constitution’s most basic promises of self-government. The rule mocks the people’s right to information—since true pension costs have long been hidden by laws and accounting practices. And it even abrogates the constitutional requirement that California’s people are sovereign under our direct democracy. Citizens in San Jose and San Diego have voted to save their public services by altering pensions, only to be told by the courts that the California Rule matters more than their ballots.

Ditto on that for Illinois, but not quite for this:

The rule also reduces even our most well-intentioned leaders to liars; they may talk about the need to embrace sustainability and fight inequality, but they are powerless to change the state’s most unsustainable and unequal rule.

In Illinois, we do have the power to change – through a constitutional amendment. Here, it’s about lack of political will.

And the article summarizes the consequences, which sure apply to Illinois:

At best, this will be a steady, decades-long degrading of services, as more and more tax dollars that should go to today’s citizens is diverted to cover the retirements of former workers.

Worst case, a big recession or a huge stock market decline could combine with the California Rule to create an epic fiscal calamity. With pension funds falling short, cash-strapped governments would have to put even more money into shoring up retirement benefits as required by the California Rule, leaving little money for anything else. Hundreds of schools would close, local governments would go bankrupt, and new taxes and budget cuts to cover funding gaps would further undermine the economy. The public could erupt in fury at pensions and even pensioners, and some governments might dare to abandon payments to pensions funds, putting the public retirement system at risk.

Illinois’ pension system is particularly regressive for reasons Wirepoints documented in detail. Rich school districts stiff the rest of the state by passing off their particularly large pension costs to the state as a whole. Read our detailed report linked here.

None of this stops defenders of our pension system from forever claiming to be the champions of the little guys. We critics of the system, you see, just want to push granny off a cliff. Same story for issue after issue.

Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

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DantheMan
1 year ago

Wirepoint readers, how many more articles by Mark and Ted do you need to see before you see the situation in Illinois is hopeless? It’s just going to get worse every year. Stop complaining and leave. I left last week.

bob out of here
1 year ago
Reply to  DantheMan

That should be addressed to “The rest of the state of IL.” Reporting in IL consists of regurgitating press releases from government sources. Nobody checks the math. I did, read the CAFR and bond offerings and when I saw the spike in the pension ramp coming in a couple of years for the city, I left. Even friends and family left behind, who I’ve warned repeatedly about what’s to come, are in denial. It’s like a freight train headed straight for your car, so you put your hands over your eyes since it can’t hit you if you can’t see… Read more »

Indy
1 year ago
Reply to  DantheMan

Exactly. Its a simple choice.
Either leave Illinois
Or get ready for your family to endure serious pain and suffering the likes of which you haven’t seen before. Then watch as their lives are utterly ruined.
No good moral human being will choose to subject their family to that kind of torture and the excuses people give on why they can’t leave Illinois aren’t going to fly anymore.

Danni Smith
1 year ago

Why does a retired at 55 years old ceramics teacher from palatine high school get $10,289.and some change every month with a guaranteed 3% annual raise, no matter how poorly this 68 year old performs in retirement?

1 year ago

Any effort to amend the Constitution on the income tax, or any new burdensome taxes, must be coupled with an amendment of the government pension law that has created the billion dollar deficits now near bankruptcy plaguing the state, Chicago, and local governments throughout the state. Pritzker’s and Madigan’s policy is all more of the same tax and spend and kick the deficits down the road to some future Governor and General Assembly when when they and their buddies are safely out of office and living high on their big pensions. Has anyone seen any sign of any effort or… Read more »

James
1 year ago

I understand your point of view, and its a popular one for sure. But, there’s another way to look at it. If you failed to make the monthly mortgage payment on your home to the point that the interest on the oustanding loan vastly exceeds the bill for the underlying mortgage payment when do you quit claiming your “mortgagte payment” is too high when, in fact, its the interest on that mortgage payment that you’ve allowed to accumulate? So, let’s call it as it is; its not an excessive payment to the IL public employee pension systems that’s the problem.… Read more »

CHARLOTTE AINES
1 year ago
Reply to  James

Well yes, it is an excessive pension to a public employee that results in an excessive payment. Per above … Why does a retired 55 years old ceramics teacher from palatine high school get $10,289.and some change every month with a guaranteed 3% annual raise, no matter how poorly this 68 year old performs in retirement?

Rick
1 year ago
Reply to  James

And what brought it to this level of interest payment? A bond market that just loves Illinois yields, combined with crooked rating agencies that keep it all conveniently “just above junk” for the highest yields possible institutionally. How many times have we heard that phrase “just above junk”? To add insult to injury those very rating agencies meet with pritzker to give him his marching orders, change that flat tax thing. The rating agencies manipulate the very things they are hired to rate, something doesn’t sound right about that at all to me. A lending market flush with cash, and… Read more »

Danni Smith
1 year ago

2 choices, defect or stop paying your RE taxes. If we band together, what will they do with 100’s of 1000’s of homes? Sure sell for taxes and all the welfare recipients and illegals who will be housed in our old homes will pay those gub pensions.

Rick
1 year ago
Reply to  Danni Smith

Switch to an interest only mortgage till you leave, invest all the principle payments you would have made into t bonds. Then use that as down payment elsewhere. Paying principle on a home that is declining in value is just like putting cash In the garbage can.