Thursday, March 24, 2016

Illinois Supreme Court voids Rahm's pension reform law

Abandoned warehouse, SW Side
My prior post was about the Chicago area having the biggest population drop of any major metropolitan area.

Here's one of the reasons.

From AP:
The Illinois Supreme Court dealt another devastating blow Thursday to the state's impatient attempts to control its ballooning public pension debt by striking down a state law that would have cut into an $8 billion hole in two of Chicago's employee pension accounts.

The law forced the city to significantly ramp up its taxpayer-fueled contributions, but also cut benefits and required larger contributions from about 61,000 current and retired municipal civil servant workers. The high court unanimously sided with workers who sued the city, arguing that the law violated the Illinois Constitution's protections against reducing promised pension benefits.

The city - whose decades of underfunding is overwhelmingly to blame for the crisis - has warned that the funds would be insolvent within 15 years without the change. But the court said that despite those warnings, the law's provisions "exceed the General Assembly's authority."

The ruling mimicked one by the high court less than a year ago involving a separate pension bailout: the $111 billion deficit in state-employee retirement accounts.
Last year, as part of Rahm's so-called pension fix, Chicago stuck it to its taxpayers with the largest property tax hike in its history.

As for Cook County--it just raised its portion of the sales tax by one percent to pay for--wait for it--pension obligations. Chicagoans pay a 10.5 sales tax on most items.

Chicago's bonds are rated as junk.

Abandoned home, West Side
The choices Chicago faces are all bad, such as more tax hikes and possibly a commuter tax, which one mayoral candidate floated last year. Ask Detroit how their commuter tax is working out. Another option is amending the state constitution so pension reform will be easier. The public-sector unions will howl over that idea.

The last and best option is to change state law so local municipalities and other government agencies can declare bankruptcy. The unions will scream about that one too--but at this point it's best to tell the unions to go to hell. The government is supposed to serve the people--it's not meant to be the other way around.

The unions made a terrible mistake--they believed promises made by the politicians whose campaigns they funded.

Related post:

Worse than Detroit: Chicago area sees biggest population loss of any major metro area in 2015

No comments: