Since legislators ended their spring session Friday night with little significant to show for it other than fracking regulations and the concealed carry legislation they were under a court order to complete, people have been venting with a passion about their anger over our politicians' limited accomplishments.
Take away their full-time pay! Take away their pensions! Take away their health care subsidies! Oust them all!
But you haven't seen all the comments because, believe it or not, not everyone in the world is on Facebook. Gasp! We acknowledge that, even though we wish it weren't so! (You will all convert eventually. Repeat after me: I must join Facebook. I will try that Tweet thing...)
Anyway, we've read a number of thoughtful comments that came in the private, old-fashioned email way and I thought we'd share some of their passion and ideas:
"It's disgraceful. It's time to start kicking these arrogant "do-nothings" out of office so some new folks with competence can make some changes, gain momentum, and get this state back on track. How can the assembly go home for the summer while the pension debt grows $17M a day??? It's obvious they don't care, and they don't have to care. They have their fat paychecks and fat pension, free health care, and no doubt a free state office and vehicle. (Editor's Note: They do get office allowance, but not a free car.) We need to give the keys over to either Wisconsin or Texas where we combine two states and under one competent assembly." -Bradd Marsden, Rockford
"I'm in the camp who favors the Nekritz/Biss way of thinking. Is it constitutional? I'm not sure-I learned that perks were added after the constitution was written. How many of these government workers applauded Clinton after he signed NAFTA for the private sector workers to balance a budget? The truth is now, there is no money in the budget to sustain the current situation. The 401(K)-style retirement is guaranteed not to go below 5% return-that's better than my retirement (no pension just investment retirement) that isn't insured at all. So everything in this budget is being sacrificed to government workers, as our debt increases and perhaps our bond rating goes down..?" - Lois Strzyzewski, Northwest suburbs
Here's one from someone who will remain anonymous because I couldn't reach him for permission to use his name: "Perhaps the real problem is that most of the senators who voted against Cullerton's pension bill have their jobs because of campaign contributions from State employee and teacher unions. Not only that, but they may have gotten way more contributions needed such that, when they retire, they will move the contributions remaining to their personal savings accounts after they pay income tax on this. (Editor's note: Not legally allowed anymore, but there was a time politicians could spend campaign donations on just about anything in Illinois.)
Imagine how much money many of them will lose out on if they vote for Cullerton's bill if their contributors do not send any more so called campaign $$ to them anymore?
If all of this information is now available to the public- newspapers should investigate this and expose this. The public should find out and see all of the numbers on this that are available.
Perhaps what needs to be done is have any campaign $$ left when a member of the State General Assembly eventually be given to the state rather than going to the personal bank account of the members."
"I've read for several days your call for a constitutional amendment to change the rules concerning redistricting. I don't personally believe this will solve anything, but it's interesting in its call for a constitutional amendment. I'd like to suggest a stronger, potentially game-changing amendment: Unicameral legislature, full-time job, one term of six years, significant pay ($200,000+), do not allow any outside work. Let's attract actually civic-minded individuals who will govern for the sake of the people, not self-interest. No ability to consult, no ability to sell insurance, no ability to give legal counsel. This would be governing, not politicking.
"It's obvious that this is revolutionary, Anyone who believes Illinois needs anything except a complete change in the status quo is naive and unobservant. Neither party has shown an ability to govern, nor to represent anyone except themselves. We keep calling for small (tiny) incremental steps. If you're going to put your considerable presence on a cause, let's shoot big." - Joe Kallas, Chicago
That big change is a fascinating idea. Reboot Illinois is supporting an effort for a different constitutional amendment to change the way districts are drawn to put power back in the hands of the people of Illinois. That also is a big challenge.
Thanks for all of your letters and thoughtful ideas. Plenty of union members even more powerless and victimized by all of this pension mess as us plain old taxpayers. We hope to hear more from them, too, in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, it took a court order to make our politicians enact a law to regulate the ability to carry concealed weapons. Hmmm, maybe there's a way we can get some appellate judges to issue a court order to make them come up with a plan for paying off all our debt?
What do you think it will take to get pension reform approved? Sound off below and share this with your friends.