October 26, 2012 – (Rockton, Illinois) – Early voters are flocking to county clerk’s offices across the state, but, sadly, most will be surprised when the first thing they encounter on their ballot is Illinois Constitution Amendment 49.

The amendment purports to protect taxpayers from rash simple majority votes on state employee pension benefits by requiring a 3/5 majority for passage.  In fact, the amendment has been dubbed the “do nothing” amendment, and the League of Women Voters has urged a NO vote on the measure.   The Illinois League of Women Voters points out that “The Illinois Constitution is not the place for a provision that is this specific to a single issue and to one remedy for a larger problem,” the organization writes on its website. “If the legislature determines this needs to be done, a statute which can be modified more easily is the appropriate course to take.”

It is hardly surprising that a group like WE ARE ONE ILLINOIS, representing the interests of public school teachers, should oppose the amendment.  What is surprising is that many groups, often on the opposite side of teachers unions, are likewise urging a NO vote on the amendment.

The Illinois Policy Institute, often pointing to abuse of the taxpayer by politicians and public sector unions, stands shoulder to shoulder with the labor interests urging no votes to the amendment.  Illinois Tea Party recommends a no vote.

WE ARE ONE ILLINOIS cites recommendations by the two major Chicago newspapers.

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.”

A Fox Illinois dot com article on the unlikely alliances spawned by the unfortunate amendment writes, “The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability opposes the amendment, saying it’s a misguided attempt to address the state’s pension problems but, most important, does nothing to reduce Illinois’ multi-billion-dollar unfunded pension liability.  Amanda Kass, a pension expert with the center, said it’s also impossible to know the full implications of the amendment until after it’s in place.

‘There’s no reason this constitutional amendment can’t be part of state statute,’ she said.”

Only two Illinois senators voted no to the amendment put before them by Mike Madigan, chief benefactor of public union largesse at election time.  Republicans may be asking themselves, “Why have our GOP representatives rolled over and played dead when such a “do-nothing” amendment was offered?”  

Speaking for the measure, Republican lawmakers say, “It’s a step in the right direction.”

It is Speaker Madigan who presents the chief obstacle to meaningful pension reform.  The Illinois Tea Party has mobilized to support candidates to the State House who will unseat Speaker Madigan, paving the way for genuine pension reform.  Each chamber of the Illinois General Assembly is only 6 votes away from a Republican majority.

While legislators fiddle, Illinois burns.  Voters should demand better of them, and should vote no on Constitution Amendment 49.

Diane Cohen article:

John Bambenek press release:

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