Sosnowski: Let Voters Weigh In on Pension Reform

ROCKFORD — Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) says there is just no way Illinois can tax its way out of an estimated $110 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities and another $50 billion in health care costs for state retirees, and so he’s proposing asking voters to weigh-in on pension reform as part of a package of fiscal measures.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 9 would place a constitutional amendment on the next general election ballot allowing voters to repeal the pension protection clause in the Illinois constitution. Sosnowski believes the votes are there to get it through the legislature and onto the Governor’s desk for placement on the ballot because every realizes how big a factor it is in the state’s financial crisis.

It would, however, face fierce opposition from public employee unions, who are currently fighting a pension reform law passed last year in the Illinois Supreme Court.

“We’ve got something with very lucrative benefits in a system that’s been abused a lot both by past legislatures through underfunding but also by all these enhancements that have happened over the years, so we have to have the flexibility to modify the pension system,” Sosnowski told ‘Eyewitness News.’

Other bills within the package (House Bill 315 and House Bill 258) creates an optional self-managed plan for all state employees and eliminates cost-of-living adjustments for State government legislative and executive elected officials and qualifying appointees. Raises would have to be approved by the legislature.

Along with other reforms, he calls it the “Better Government Package:”

• House Bill 256: Reduces filing fees imposed upon limited liability companies by 50%
• House Bill 253: Stops abuses in the state plans regarding overtime.
• House Bill 260: Reduces State stipends for county officials based on population.
• House Bill 314: Private Public Economic Development Program.
• House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 10: Prohibits a person from holding the office of State Senator or State Representative or a combination of those offices for more than 20 years. (Term limits)

“It’s highly imperative that we restore faith in government,” says Rep. Sosnowski. “This package serves as a step towards turning Illinois in the right direction by reducing regulations and promoting responsible government.”