The Chicago Tribune recently reported that a task force appointed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker will soon announce recommendations for “improving the health of pension funds statewide.” The pensions at issue are smaller municipal plans, not the huge state-wide plans, mainly for police and firefighters employed in smaller cities and towns.
Those smaller plans are also massively underfunded, however. Proposals under consideration include consolidating the many plans in hopes of securing cost savings – as well as higher property taxes for local plans choosing to opt-in to the consolidated funds.
Pritzker named Illinois’ Deputy Governor Dan Hynes to lead the task force. The Chicago Tribune story quoted his goal for the task force -- a “solution that everybody agrees is in the best interest of the retirees and our active police and firefighters, as well as municipalities.”
That’s a lot to ask for, unless your job is to sell policy proposals with win-win assertions.
In that statement, Hynes identified three different groups with different interests. He also left out some other groups of interest.
The three groups he named include “retirees,” “active police and firefighters,” and “municipalities.” If groups are named in order of priority, it seems he puts retirees first in line. He also included “active police and firefighters,” but some things that are good for retirees may mean different things for active workers, given that the first group may benefit from “solutions” that impose higher risks for active workers waiting for future benefits.
Consider, in turn, the "retirees" Hynes is referring to. Most retirees didn't work in public sector unionized jobs, and their interests may be threatened by policies Hynes promotes as "in the best interest of the retirees."
How about the “municipalities?” To whom is he referring to there?
If higher taxes are part of the answer from the task force, the recommendations could indeed benefit retirees, active police and firefighters, and municipalities, all at once – if you define the “municipality” as the government independent of the citizens and taxpayers in the municipality.
Are higher taxes in the interest of taxpayers? Will “everyone agree” they are?
Who is Dan Hynes working for, anyway? Concentrated special interest groups like pensioners and government officials – and in turn, the bondholders who supported the systems that are now threatening the rest of us?
Or should the Governor and Lt. Governor be working for all of us -- the common good?