Vote NO on the pension amendment to the Constitution!

In this fall's election, candidates aren't the only people on the ballot. So are teachers, police officers, fire fighters, nurses and tens of thousands more Illinois public employees and retirees whose pensions are under attack by politicians in Springfield.

You'll be asked to vote on a measure to change the Illinois Constitution to require a three-fifths majority of any public body to improve public-employee pensions. While the measure would do nothing to fix the state's pension debt, it would strip local control from school boards and city councils, lead to more political gridlock and wasteful court battles, and weaken the collective bargaining rights of workers.

VOTE NO on the pension amendment to the Constitution.

NO TO THE POWER GRAB. Put on the ballot by Springfield politicians, the amendment would deny local school boards, county boards and city councils their right to reach agreement with their employees as they see fit and to enact those agreements with a simple majority.

NO TO POLITICAL GRIDLOCK. The amendment would allow the minority party of any governing body to block or obstruct approval of any measure requiring a supermajority for any reason at all. That goes against the basic values of our democracy.

NO TO COSTLY LITIGATION. The amendment is confusing, vague and poorly written. Because no one can tell what type of measures might require supermajority approval, and because hundreds of cities, counties and school districts statewide might be affected, the ballot measure practically ensures that money and time will be wasted on court battles instead of working together to solve problems.

NO TO ATTACKS ON WORKERS. The millionaires and billionaires behind this amendment and other attacks on Illinois workers have carved out special treatment for themselves--they pay a state tax rate just half what most working folks pay! Rather than doing their fair share, the CEO crowd wants to shift the blame where it doesn't belong: To middle-class public employees like teachers and fire fighters who serve our communities.

In reality, politicians caused the pension debt by shorting or outright skipping their required contributions for decades. All that time public employees worked hard and paid faithfully toward their retirement from every check. They earn modest pensions--just $32,000 a year on average--and some 80% of them are not eligible for Social Security.

It's wrong for the politicians who caused the problem to shift blame with this foolish change to the Constitution.

Look who else is voting NO!

Illinois League of Women Voters: "Some people mistakenly assume that the higher the vote required to take an action, the greater the protection of the members. Instead the opposite is true. Whenever a vote of more than a majority is required to take action, control is taken from the majority and given to a minority."

Chicago Tribune: "The proposed pension amendment is a misleading gesture ... please give [it] your enthusiastic vote: 'No.'"

Chicago Sun-Times: "[U]surpation of local control and a violation of basic democratic principles, just one of many reasons why voters should say 'No' to the proposed amendment. ... The amendment also is harmful because it gives campaigning politicians cover."

Bloomington Pantagraph and Decatur Herald & Review: "[C]hanges to the basic frame of government should be well-reasoned and solidly outlined with facts, and this proposed change to the constitution contains neither. ... We strongly recommend a 'no' vote on this misguided attempt to change the state constitution."

Protestants for the Common Good: "Let us not be confused. This amendment does nothing, not one jot, towards solving the public pension problems of our state [but] could have serious unintended consequences. ... To protect recent and future public employees and the quality of public services, vote NO".

NEW! Citizen Action/Illinois: The state's largest public-interest organization "has taken a position to oppose the pension amendment to the constitution. Please vote NO when you are asked to vote on a measure to change the Illinois Constitution to require a three-fifths majority of any public body to improve public-employee pensions."

NEW!Peoria Journal-Star: "The full text of the abysmally written and probably purposely indecipherable amendment - leave it to the lawyers - will not appear on the ballot, so this is the equivalent of signing a contract you haven't read. ... It's a virtual invitation to legal challenge and even greater expenditures of your tax money. You know a measure is flawed when liberal labor groups and some conservative organizations alike oppose it ... Constitutional amendments are big deals. Nothing about this one feels right. Vote no."

NEW! Southern Illinoisan: "It’s a smoke-and-mirrors, feel-good measure to make it appear the General Assembly is doing something about the problem. ... This amendment is unnecessary, confusing and could have unintended consequences. Sink it."

NEW! Better Government Association: "In addition to doing nothing to address Illinois’ growing unfunded pension liability ... the amendment presents several technical problems. It uses new terms found nowhere in the pension code or in the regulations governing pension funds, making it impossible to understand the practical implications of the proposed language."