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Illinois Unions Say To Hell with the Taxpayers, We Want Your Money

Mary Laney 23 April 2010 2 Comments

The public-sector Unions are showing their muscle in Springfield and using that old canard that “the children will suffer” unless the General Assembly moves to give the employees a pay raise. That’s a lot of rot.

Illinois is now second only to California in its billions of dollars of debt. But the only thing we hear from Governor Quinn and General Assembly leaders is a push to raise taxes once again. Whoa there! There is another way and it won’t cause even more manufacturers, businesses, and residents to flee the state. Instead of raising taxes, how about calling for spending freezes and cutting a lot of fat from the budget? How about looking into the one issue that is sinking Illinois into more debt every day – the government and public-sector pensions? There is no Fortune 500 company that gives pensions that rise every year despite what the market does. There is no Fortune 500 company that pays retirees health care after they retire – and health care that is more expensive than private health care – without retirees paying a penny for the coverage.

Governor Blagojevich approved huge pay increases for public employees and expanded pensions. Now Governor Quinn talks about tax increases. Businesses are leaving the state, jobs are drying up, unemployment is on the rise, and the Governor proposes raising taxes, which will only worsen the situation.

It is time to find someone in Springfield who will have the spine to speak out against this folly. It is past time for someone to propose freezing new spending and capping the annual increases in pensions. Demonizing the rich and punishing business for the folly of government spending just doesn’t work anymore. Each day, more and more people are waking up to the higher taxes and fees in Illinois.

In the 1950’s Union leader Owen Meany spoke out against the unionization of public sector workers. He saw it as a poison pill which would eventually run government and kill the economy. The difference between private sector unions is that those unions – with the exception of the UAW – have known how much they can demand without destroying their employer. Public sector employees have no such limits. The results are clear: they’re destroying Illinois’ economy. Their pensions are drowning our state just as they are drowning California.

It will take courage in Springfield to speak out about this. It will take someone with knowledge of how business works, how the economy can flourish, and how the public sector unions are hurting Illinois.

The upcoming elections are a good place to start. We need a Governor who knows business, who has worked in a business, hired workers, paid their benefits, met a payroll, and paid ever- growing taxes and fees. We need a Governor who can stand up to the public unions and make them face the stark reality – Illinois can no longer foot the huge bill to compensate their growing pensions and they’ll have to do what private businesses do. We need a Governor who will tell these unions that they’ll either have to accept a pay freeze or cut jobs. We need a Governor who will tell the Teacher’s Union that they’ll have to stop the practice of raising administrators’ salaries the last year of work to collect bigger pensions – a practice that ought to be outlawed. It’s time for a Governor who will act to put the students ahead of the teachers’ union. It’s time for a Governor who will have the courage to address the public pension system in Illinois and change it. If we elect such a Governor, constant calls for new taxes will no longer be necessary.


Mary Laney is a Regular Columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer


  • John said:

    I agree but I also wish you would criticize all those Republicans in lake county who have taxed me to death for years. In fact, we are the second most taxed county in the US, second to Marine County in California.

  • Dan Kelley said:

    I agree wholeheartedly, but I would also add that it is also essential that the American president has a background in business. Unfortunately, Obama seems to be an economic illiterate. His private sector experience is less than minimal and I am including the summer that he spent scooping ice cream for Baskin-Robbins.

    If Obama succeeds at transforming the economy, we all will be in for a “Rocky Road.”

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