Freshman Rep. Miller believes fear, greed in Springfield 'paralyzing' pension-reform efforts
Republican Rep. Chris Miller thinks that fear may be the reason why lawmakers in Springfield are not inclined to push harder for pension reform.
“We haven’t had one conversation about pension reform since I got to Springfield,” Miller, the small business owner from Oakland elected to represent the 101st District in November, told the East Central Reporter. “No one wants to talk about it because they understand that leaders have go first and they don’t want to sacrifice what they have. It’s the topic that’s paralyzing our state and already burdening our grandchildren, and no one is doing anything to address it.”
Meanwhile, the state's debt continues to mount, with J.P. Morgan surmising that it would take more than half of all state revenue over 30 years to fully fund government worker retirement benefits at current levels. As it is, more than 25 percent of state revenue already goes to such expenditures, making Illinois the state with the highest percentage of revenues earmarked for pension benefits and retiree health care programs.
“This kind of debt is absolutely unsustainable,” Miller added. “Some even say we’ve already passed the point of no return, meaning we can’t raise taxes enough to pay off all our debt given the current climate.”
Even with all the spending, Illinois Policy Institute reports that the state’s pension system remains grossly underfunded, leading some like Miller to believe the situation has become “practically irreversible.”
Miller laments that the spending avalanche still seems far from over.
“[Gov. J.B.] Pritzker has already proposed a budget with a billion dollars in new spending,” he said. “This environment is completely out of control. As a small business owner, it just blows my mind to see some of the things they’re doing when it comes to budgeting. Voters need to wake up and see that all these guys that make all the promises are doing nothing but abusing taxpayers.”