Quinn Should Drop Unfair, Unconstitutional Pension Cuts and Work Together

The We Are One Illinois coalition issued the following statement in response to Governor Pat Quinn's continued push to cut the pensions earned by public employees and retirees:

“No one doubts the need for pension reform. The question is whether it will be real reform that is fair to workers and upholds our state's constitution while fixing the real problem: The past failure of politicians to pay their share. That is not what Governor Quinn has proposed.

“Politicians got our state into this fiscal hole by skipping payments, then using the money to pay for other vital services. Blaming workers or their unions won't fix the mess. And polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Illinois voters rightly agree with us on these points.

“It is important to understand that nearly 80 percent of state pension participants--including all Illinois teachers, police, fire fighters, and City of Chicago, Cook County and state university employees--do not receive Social Security. For these, their modest pension is their primary and often sole source of support in retirement.

“The forced-choice plan pushed by the governor and legislative leaders is a coercive diminishment of these modest benefits. Thus it is not a real solution to the pension problem, as the governor himself acknowledged in 2010 when he said such cuts would violate the constitution. Like the proposed constitutional amendment that Illinois voters recently rejected, this is a phony plan posing as reform. It will lead to costly litigation while the pension debt grows."

The coalition also called on Governor Quinn to apologize for what it called his "outrageous, insensitive" remarks comparing his effort to cut pensions to President Abraham Lincoln's moral crusade to end slavery.