Illinois' pension crisis has ignited a lot of debate about how best to solve what some have referred to as the nation’s worst pension crisis, with many placing blame on legislators.
Brandi McGuire, State House candidate for District 72 who owns her own business, said she believes in pension reform but would like to see it begin with state legislators.
“I think we need to start with state legislators to be honest,” McGuire told Rock Island Today. “You are going to ask everyone else for pension reform? Look at (our) legislators. We have one of the third highest paid state legislatures in the entire country. You are a state representative for (eight) years and you are fully vested in a pension. There is something wrong with that. They need to look at themselves before they start talking about pension reform and then we will start talking about everybody else.”
Despite the hurdles the pension bill is facing, many have praised Rauner and Cullerton’s efforts in solving the pension crisis.
House District 71 candidate Tony McCombie said pension reform does need to be addressed.
“The workers deserve a pension, I agree with that 100 percent; but there does need to be some reform for the future,” McCombie told Rock Island Today. “At this rate, communities in the state are not going to be able to keep up, so there has to be some reform. I don’t know the answer to that -- what those reforms are -- but we certainly need to look at pension reform; and if Cullerton and Rauner agree, hopefully both sides can come together, as their leaders are pushing them to do.”
Pension reform may be the answer, but Cullerton himself reportedly said that achieving that goal will be difficult.
In 2013, legislation was approved to cut pension benefits. But when unions sued, claiming that reducing retirement benefits was unconstitutional, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed.
House incumbent Mike Smiddy (D-District 71) told Rock Island Today that with pension reform deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the only way to change that would require a constitutional amendment.
“I don’t think there is a lot of folks in either chamber who want to do that so I think bring(ing) another bill to the floor to change something they’ve already said is unconstitutional is kind of a waste of the legislature’s time," Smiddy said. "I think we need to be focusing more on the budget."