Baumer demands that state honor its pension promises
Spending is out of control in Illinois, Katy Dolan Baumer, Republican candidate for the 44th District state House seat, told West Cook News.
“I don't think we have a revenue problem in Illinois," Baumer said. "I think we have a budget that we are not properly laying out."
The biggest financial issue facing the state is that it doesn't have a budget. Next to the failure to provide a balanced budget, the most critical issue facing the state is the pension, Baumer said.
The pension problem has been kicked down the road by administration after administration. Now, when people are ready to retire, there's no money in the fund to pay them, Baumer said. Money is being borrowed from the people currently working to pay those who already have retired, but before the problem can be fixed, the state needs to have a budget in place, Baumer said.
If the state doesn't stop and fix the problem now, it will go even further into debt, creating a bigger issue, Baumer said.
“It's a problem," Baumer said. "We owe these people. We promised these people that money, and we have to pay them,” Baumer said.
Instead of fixing the problem, the state is continuing to add people to the pension plan, Baumer said. The state could consider changing to a tiered retirement plan, which would incorporate private-sector retirement plans, such as IRAs. This would create a more equitable plan, in which all of the burden isn't on the state or on the person collecting the pension. The only immediate solution may be for the state to take out a loan to pay it off, but then that would have to be paid off, Baumer said.
Many people don't understand how important it is for the state to have a budget, which must also be balanced and include a responsible pension plan, Baumer said. The pension plan needs to address not only current needs and future needs, but also correct what has happened in the past.
Members of all parties need to work together to fix the problem. Illinois is made up of Republicans, Independents and Democrats, so the solution must be worked on and agreed upon by all parties, Baumer said. When they present it to the public, they must agree it is a budget they can all work with and that it is in the best interests of the people, not the legislators, Baumer said. Having a “Republican” budget or a “Democratic” budget isn't going to work. It needs to be a plan that serves the people, Baumer said.
The pension issue is also weighing heavily on Baumer, who is upset that the state is not correcting the problem. Illinois continues to hire people and place them in the pension plan, but not reforming the plan to make it stable. There have even been rumors that the state will just go back to those people who were promised pensions and tell them the state isn't going to pay them.
“Yes, we are," Baumer said. "I'm going to pay that pension because we promised them. You don't enter into an agreement and then not fulfill it because that's not ethical.”