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State’s failure to pay its share created a crisis

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

This is in response to a letter printed Feb. 11 [“Bankrupt state should cut back on charity cases,” Charles Derer] regarding the state of Illinois’ economy and the misguided belief that problems are a result of the public employee unions. This is simply not true.

Public employees are hard-working, tax-paying citizens, just like everyone else. They do not receive “free” benefits. Their pensions are much like a private-sector employee’s 401(k) plan. They are mandated to pay a portion of their salary each month into the pension fund.

The problem began when the state neglected to make its “matching” contribution for several years. The employees have always paid their share, and it is time that the state does, too.

Their health insurance also is not “free.” They pay significant premiums out of their salaries and have large co-pays, too; again, just like private-sector employees.

Let’s address the pay-cut statement. The public employee union, AFSCME, agreed to wage concessions 2 years ago in order to help with the fiscal crisis. Employees agreed to take unpaid furlough days and a salary deferral. In turn, the state violated its legally negotiated contract and refused to pay employees in certain agencies when the deferral agreement was up.

The governor claims that the legislators did not appropriate the funds to honor the contract. I wish my creditors would accept that excuse.

Finally, the writer says that public employees should not be allowed to vote because it is a conflict of interest. If we are going to start down that slippery slope of taking away basic civil liberties, then let’s look at the successful business owner who wants a certain tax break and makes a great big campaign contribution to his legislator to help that along.

Take away my right to vote? I think not.


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