Larry Alferink, president of the Illinois State Annuitants Association, said Constitutional Amendment 49 doesn't address the pension problem in Illinois, which he says is the pension debt. (Photo by Laura Ewan/WJBC)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - An Illinois State University professor is helping lead the push against a state constitutional amendment that would make it more difficult to enact pension reforms.
The proposal known as Constitutional Amendment 49 would require lawmakers to approve pension legislation by at least a three-fifths majority. Larry Alferink, President of the Illinois State Annuitants Association, said the amendment is long-winded and confusing and cites poor examples of what would qualify.
"They're not restricted to these examples, and so the question is 'What are they restricted to?' The courts will have to sort that out and that's going to cost a lot of money because lawsuits are expensive," Alferink said.
Alferink said if requiring a 60-percent majority is a good idea, it should apply to all legislation, not just pensions. He said the so-called 'sweet-heart' pension deals that have passed previosuyl receveid overhelming majorities.
"The pension issue is a real issue, but that doesn't do anything to solve. it. it doesn't reduce the pension debt by a single penny," Alferink said.
Illinois' debt to its five pension funds tops $83 billion.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, saying that it's been too easy for lawmakers to provide added benefits which have cost the state.
The State Universities Annuitants Association has launched a statewide campaign in opposition to the proposed amendment.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.
You can listen to Scott and Colleen's interview with Alferink on the podcast page at WJBC.com.