Jameson calls for change in pension plans, leadership in Springfield
Doug Jameson argues it stands to reason that the state’s bubbling pension crisis has now morphed into its Achilles’ heel.
“All the data that I’ve seen shows that the level of benefits has, over a period of 15 years, steadily increased while state revenue and the ability to pay are not growing at nearly as fast a pace,” Jameson told the Metro East Sun. “Now, we’ve fallen into a trend of benefits still rising while the tax base is literally eroding away.”
Jameson’s observations are supported by a recent report by Wirepoints.com, a research and commentary website that focuses on Illinois’ economy and politics, after the website studied and compared data composed by the Illinois Department of Insurance and other sources over the last 30 years.
As of 2016, promised benefits in Illinois were 1,000 percent higher than they were in 1996, highlighting a pace that puts that metric in a world all of its own when compared to the growth of all the state’s other economic barometers over the same three decades.
With the state’s pension benefits growing at a rate faster than every other state in the country besides New Jersey and New Hampshire from 2003 and 2012, every household in Illinois now finds itself owing at least $43,000 in pension liability, according to Wirepoints.
“It comes from lawmakers being too generous in contract negotiations where things were promised over an extended period of time where no one anticipated any economic downturns,” said Jameson, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) in the 113th District. “Politicians kept kicking the can down the road thinking that the economy was going to get better in Illinois and it never did.”
In fact, Wirepoints surmises that if state pension benefits across the state had simply grown as they did in all the neighboring states over the last decade the state’s unfunded pension liability would now be reduced by as much as $85 billion.
“It's true that a pension is a promise, but I think we’ve reached the point where the promise needs to be changed here in Illinois,” Jameson said. “With new employees, we need to be giving a lot of attention to transferring the workforce into a new self-management plan. We need to change the promise because, as a state, we just can’t continue to do things the same way we’ve been doing them.”
Jameson said the change won’t happen until taxpayers rid themselves of the likes of House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and his undue influence in Springfield.
“Nothing’s going to happen until Madigan is removed from power,” he said. “He still believes the answer to every issue lies in increased taxes and never getting to the root cause of the issue. This is a systemic problem that needs long-term correction.”
The 113th District includes all or parts of Brooklyn, Caseyville, Fairmont City, Pontoon Beach, Shiloh, Swansea and Washington Park.