Illinois Public Pension Amendment, HJRCA 49 (2012)

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Public Pension Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Illinois Constitution
Referred by:Illinois State Legislature
Status:On the ballot

The Illinois Public Pension Amendment will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot in Illinois as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If passed, the measure would require a three-fifths approval by the General Assembly, city councils, and school districts that wish to increase the pension benefits of their employees. The measure is sponsored by Representative Michael Madigan.[1]

Text of measure

The official ballot text reads as follows:[2]

Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution

Explanation of Amendment

Upon approval by the voters, the proposed amendment, which takes effect on January 9, 2013, adds a new section to the General Provisions Article of the Illinois Constitution. The new section would require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the General Assembly or the governing body of a unit of local government, school district, or pension or retirement system, in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system. At the general election to be held on November 6, 2012, you will be called upon to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.

If you believe the Illinois Constitution should be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote YES on the question. If you believe the Illinois Constitution should not be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote NO on the question. Three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election must vote "YES" in order for the amendment to become effective on January 9, 2013.

For the proposed addition of Section 5.1 to Article XIII of the Illinois Constitution.



Arguments against

  • While supporters claim this measure is aimed at reforming the state’s pension system, which is currently more than $200 billion in debt and growing,[4] if enacted, the amendment in reality would do nothing to solve, let alone address our state’s pension crisis.[5]
  • History shows that a supermajority voting requirement would have made virtually no difference in preventing the pension benefit increases and sweeteners approved by the legislature during recent decades. Nor would it have prevented the pension crisis the state now faces. Such measures have passed by overwhelming margins in both houses of the legislature, far surpassing the supermajority mark (which is 71 votes in the House and 36 in the Senate).[6]
  • The conundrum voters face is that to support the amendment is to further the fallacy that it actually means something, while to oppose it may send the wrong message to state and local decision makers who are already spending beyond the taxpayers’ means, who knowingly passed this “do nothing” amendment so they could say they did something toward pension reform.[7]
  • Here’s what real reform would look like: Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution expressly deems membership in any state or local pension or retirement system an enforceable contractual relationship, and thus prohibits the diminishment or impairment of benefits vested in such systems. But the constitution fails to prohibit state and local governments from contracting away more than what taxpayers can afford. Thus, if the General Assembly was truly interested in advancing pension reform, it would have referred a constitutional amendment that prohibits pension and retirement system benefit increases unless and until they are fully funded (using risk-free discount rates).[8]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Illinois Constitution

To qualify for the 2012 ballot, the measure required a 60% vote approval by both the House and the Senate.

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the House passed the amendment on a vote of 113-0.[1]

On Thursday, May 3, the Senate passed the amendment on to the ballot with a 51-2 vote.[9]

See also


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External links