It's important to note the delegates to the 1970 Constitutional Convention never had to run for re-election.
They served in a "one and done" arena and their product still serves as the blueprint for Illinois law. Forty-two years later their collective wisdom has percolated to the front of the debate over public pensions.
Ralph Martire is perhaps the most reasonable analyst ofour public pension debate. As executive director of the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Martire perfectly summarizes the problem as a debt crisis, not a pension crisis.
The debt crisis has been exacerbated by chronic legislative borrowing of pension assets to cover daily expenses. It's like a family borrowing from its home equity every month to buy food.
Now, after the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, there is a panicked attempt to strip teachers and other public workers of their constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits. The authors of our Constitution-guaranteed public pensions because the unfunded liabilities of those systems were virtually identical in 1970 when the Constitution was ratified.
Can you imagine the state refusing to honor other contractual obligations, like those with vendors? It's even worse to imagine what would happen to Illinois' credit rating if it tries to ignore the pension guarantees written into its very legal foundation - the Constitution.
Solutions must be real and long term. Let's start by admitting teacher pensions did not cause our state's financial problems. It will take courage and vision to do exactly that.
Illinois Retired Teachers Association