In a recent [column] in the Gazette, the pension “fix” was blasted by Scott Reeder of the Illinois Policy Institute. At the end of the article, the Gazette noted that his column was “underwritten by the Illinois Policy Institute” – that is a fancy way to say “paid for by.”
This institute is a hard-right, conservative group that has bashed teacher and government pensions for a long time. The article points out how badly our pension systems are funded, but it never gave a reason. The reason is quite simple: The state rarely lived up to its obligation to fund them properly from year to year. Public employees met their obligations, but the state didn’t.
“Union bosses” (inflammatory term used in the article), for many years, warned of the folly of the state not meeting its obligations. Many of us who went into education understood that we would not be paid as well as those with equivalent education in the private sector, but we knew we had a decent and constitutionally guaranteed pension when we retired.
If Mr. Reeder wants to have teachers and others start their own 401(k) pensions, then he and his “policy institute” should support raising teacher salaries considerably so that they can afford to put money away in a 401(k) for retirement. Their support for that will never happen.
The Gazette shows its true colors by running this “paid advertisement” for these rich business owners who make up this institute. This pension reform will hurt, but the people hurt most will be current and future teachers and current retirees.
Note to readers: Elroy Wylde is a retired teacher.