Chris Harris: 'Illinois' leadership is failing its citizenry in every way'
Chris Harris, who is running for state representative in the 7th District, recently called for immediate action to rectify Illinois' pension crisis, which has left the state employee pension fund $111 billion in the hole.
"We need to immediately address the pension crisis, and we first must realize and respect that in doing so we know that the people who have for years paid into the system expecting certain results are 100 percent entitled to those results," Harris wrote on oakpark.com. "The future structure needs to be examined with fairness and concern for the worker."
Illinois is currently providing only 40 percent of the amount required to pay pension benefits because the state’s contributions were neglected for years. Now, the state’s annual payments have blown up to approximately $7 billion, which turns out to be about one-fifth of Illinois’ general funds budget.
With the pension crisis continuing to loom over Illinois, lawmakers are struggling to find a solution that will bring about pension reform and solve the state’s financial woes.
So far, a pension bill created by Senate President John Cullerton (D-6th District) and endorsed by Gov. Bruce Rauner has been put on hold because Democrats are unlikely to address the pension bill until the state has a budget. Cullerton’s plan would give workers a choice in retirement benefits in an attempt to shrink the unfunded pension liability.
As far as the state budget goes, Rauner and many Democrats have yet to agree on how to close the roughly $5 billion budget deficit, which has left the state without a spending plan for the fiscal year. The budget crisis has forced the state to make painful cuts to social services and other programs. Before he will sign off on a tax increase to cover the deficit, Rauner said he wants pro-business changes, which Democrats say will cripple the middle class.
"Illinois' leadership is failing its citizenry in every way," Harris wrote. "Neglect and lack of long-term planning has cost the state jobs and growth, and helped contribute to the monstrous pension crisis. Lawmakers set on advancing their careers and not looking out for who they represent fuels my desire to try and change a system on a path to self-destruct."