Of course, Illinois public employee unions will sue.

That foregone conclusion, affirmed by union leadership almost immediately after the Illinois House and Senate voted Tuesday for pension reform, makes absolute sense for the organization that derives its power from state employees.

Those unions have worked hard to protect members from reforms that will significantly diminish pension benefits over time, mainly by raising retirement ages and restricting cost-of-living increases.

But Tuesday’s pension reform is intended to protect taxpayers, not the state’s organized employees. That’s why we salute Rep. Pat Verschoore and Sen. Mike Jacobs for voting with the majority in support of taxpayers, not public employee union members.

Verschoore, a former union business agent, said it was his most difficult vote in his 10 years as a legislator. Verschoore has toed the union line his entire career. His deep union support assured his re-election and scared off tough challengers. Perhaps that invincibility gave him the political courage newer lawmakers lacked. First year Rep. Mike Smiddy cited the unions’ constitutional concerns in his “no” vote against reform. They believe it won’t survive challenges based on state constitutional interpretations that say public employee pensions are off-limits to legislators.

Hence the unions’ expected lawsuit, a needed step to affirm how far lawmakers can go on behalf of taxpayers. We’ve seen how far they’ll go on behalf of public employee unions.

Sen. Mike Jacobs explained his “yes” vote for pension reform this way:

"I can't help but think we're paying for the sins of the fathers here.”

He would be referring to his father, former state Sen. Denny Jacobs, and the entrenched Democratic House majority which buried taxpayers with billions in pension debt. We can’t blame public employees for seeking generous, guaranteed pensions that have all but disappeared in the private sector. But we can blame complicit Democratic leaders for bowing to that union pressure.

That’s what makes Verschoore’s and Jacobs’ vote with the majority so astounding. This deal – concocted in secret and hustled through with little floor discussion in the inimitable Michael Madigan way – requires sacrifices from public employees by shaving $160 billion off the anticipated pension debt over 30 years. But it still leaves taxpayers on the hook for $214 billion over the same period.

And it requires future legislatures to live up to a commitment to add $1 billion in annual pension funding by 2020.

So Illinois’ pension concerns haven’t disappeared. But on Tuesday, majorities in the House and Senate put taxpayers ahead of public employees. Illinois Quad-Citians can salute Verschoore and Jacobs for voting with that majority.

(16) comments

Constitutionalist

Sorry towns, but when the market crashed in 2008 the DOW was around 13,500 or 14,000 now it's hovering around 16,000 so people have more than gotten back what they lost. The market doesn't go straight up but at the end of the day a 401k is a great retirement policy.

towns

Mike Jacobs is pathetic. The"sins"of the fathers" are the rip-off of Wall Street fund and pension managers. It is grand larceny Their looting is not even part of the public discussion. People are simply jealous that public employees still have defined-benefit pensions, not the made in Chile 401ks that most people have not recovered significant value from the 2008 melt down. This is just about the race tho the bottom that goes on and on. The bond holders will get paid no matter what

snowman05

Hate to tell ya, our 401k's have. And we can pass them on to our children. The state or anyone can't afford the pensions.

freesenior

Jealous? You got to be kidding. There is a difference between jealous and angry that those who work for you, think you work for them. You left out the decision makers in the union as to who their pension fund managers are, and the money that no doubt changed hands. What do you mean bond holders? Tell that to the folks that held the Chrysler debt. They were first in line by contract and law, but that did not mean much when political terrorism calls the shots. The public has had it with PEU's. About time to privatize over half of the jobs and services and get rid of the other half. We both are disgusted with Jacobs but for exactly opposite reasons.

longjohn412

Privatization ?

BWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

Illinois, as bad as it is, has no where even close to the pension problem created at the USPS since Privatization .....

Privatization = Just another lamebrain play run over and over by the Supply Siders no matter how many times it has failed ... like at the USPS and Fannie Mae, BOTH of which were much better off before Privatization ......

Klaatu
Klaatu

The democrats are their own worst enemy. It wasn't that long ago that the unions supported candidates from both parties. They lost a lot of influence by tying themselves to the democrat party. If you look at the decline of the unions that was when they started their decline. And they went off the deep end on wild eyed social issues and alienated half the country. If the unions had left that idiocy to the communists and Marxists and concentrated on legitimate areas of concern they would be much better off right now.

Constitutionalist

If Illinois was the federal government they would just print more money and not make the tough choices, but states can't print money. That said think what would happen if we forced the federal gov to make these tough choices.

snowman05

So true.

4ever49

Maybe this move only came about following the spectacle of Detroit's bankruptcy filing. I hope it actually moves Illinois towards sanity.
For now it appears as years late & billions of dollars short.

Klaatu
Klaatu

Unions are a good thing, but they are guilty of excesses and that isn't even up for debate. I don't want to see the unions destroyed, but I want to see some common sense applied. You cannot ask taxpayers who make 25K a year to pay absurdly high pensions to retired teachers. Taxes are sky high in this country, the politicians seem to have no mercy for the average person. They want new and higher taxes on everything. They want to control our lives through regulation. They want to make our energy ridiculously expensive to fight an imaginary global warming threat. Give a politician an opportunity and there is nothing he won't tax and nothing he won't regulate.

freesenior

Private sector unions (most) are good things. Especially in the skilled trades. They have at their leadership level, folks that understand a heck of a lot more about business and know if their emplyer makes money they make money and keep their jobs. Public Employee Unions could care less. The state or community could be broke because stupid unsustainable promises were made and an economy gets turned upside down? No problem, just tax folks more. Take their property and their income, and confiscate their bank accounts because we have a deal right? Private works a whole lot different and a whole lot better.

snowman05

Where are the bussed in protests in Springfield? Where is the threatened violence? Where are the commercials about grandma and grandpa being forced to choose between food and housing? The Democrats have done it again to their voters and the ones they claim to fight for. They were the ones that raised taxes on people earning social security too. Remember this union workers when you send your dues to their campaigns. You got played again!

atlasshrugged

The chickens have finally come home to roost. Say NO to unions and YES to fiscal responsibility in the future. However it is Illinois and I have my doubts that this will ever happen.

snowman05

Where are the usual suspects on the Times. Where everything is blamed on the GOP at every level? Their silence is very telling.

KJack

" That’s why we salute Rep. Pat Verschoore and Sen. Mike Jacobs for voting with the majority in support of taxpayers, not public employee union members."

Wow! The QC Times Editorial Board must be very ill informed or in the bag with Verscoore and Jacobs if they think that is vote is on the side of the taxpayers.

freesenior

This not even a drop in the bucket. Elected officials themselves are to blame right along the PEU's. Sin's of the father? Hardly; this is the consequence of the fox running the chickenhouse for years, a near tribal mentality of the PEU's and to heck with the tax payer as long as we get what we want. Those promises were unsustainable when they were made and the warnings were drowned in threat, graft, payoffs, corruption of every sort. No Constitutional provision can change that. A promise made under duress or as a result of fraud is not binding, and the membership is not innocent. A 58k pension for a retired school teacher is wonderful, but who is going to pay for it. This gravey train is still headed off its greasy tracks. When 25% of a budget is going to pensions, then something is very wrong indeed. While people will try to make this a partisan issue, it most certainly is not. It is someting far deeper, reflective of a de-evolving culture, political and otherwise in an entire state. Welcome to Detroit South. If the citizens that pay the freight in Illinois do not stand up and defend themselves they can expect little sympathy outside its borders. No matter how you cut ugly, its still ugly. Good luck.

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