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The League of Women Voters of Illinois (LWVIL) Opposes HJRCA49 -- Constitutional Amendment Referendum on the November 7 Ballot

The LWVIL explains its rationale in opposing HJRCA49, the Constitutional Amendment Referendum on the November 6 ballot.

This statement was recently issued by the LWVIL:

After reviewing the General Assembly's proposal, relevant League positions and precedents, and researching supporting documentation, League of Women Voters of Illinois Board of Directors has decided to oppose HJRCA 49, the Constitutional Amendment referendum proposal that will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

THE AMENDMENT PROPOSAL:  The measure would amend the General Provisions Article of the Illinois Constitution requiring 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.  The full text is available here: http://ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=49&GA=97&DocTypeID=HJRCA&LegID=67098&SessionID=84

RATIONALE FOR OPPOSITION:  Our objection is squarely focused on the proposal's 3/5 majority vote requirement, not on pension reform issues.  We are acting under our Representative Government position to promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive.

The Illinois League has a strong record supporting measures to make our democracy more, not less, representative. Our interest in and experience with constitutional amendments are extensive, including detailed study and active participation in the 1970 Constitutional Convention where we strenuously advocated for simply majority votes on constitutional matters.

As an organization that has been active in the legislative process, we have witnessed first hand what the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure confirms: Some people mistakenly assume that the higher the vote required to take an action, the greater the protection of the members.  Instead, the opposite is true.  Whenever a vote of more than a majority is required to take action, control is taken from the majority and given to a minority.

The Illinois Constitution is not the place for a provision that is this specific to a single issue and to one remedy for a larger problem.  If the legislature determines this needs to be done, a statute which can be modified more easily is the appropriate course to take.

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Genvieve LaChappele September 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I agree. If there i no 2/3 majority, it will be much easier for the State Government to dismantle the current pension system so the State could make progress to the end goal of solvency.
Ricky Baldwin October 04, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Actually, Genvieve, your assumption is incorrect that dismantling the pensions would lead to better budgets in any way. The state has effectively borrowed from the pensions for years by declaring 'pension holidays' for the employers (employees still had to pay their share). So the pensions became a kind of slush fund to be raided to pay other bills. Dismantling the pensions would mean at least two things: 1. The state would have to pay Social Security for its employees, which would be more expensive. 2. No more'holidays' or other raiding employees' retirement. The real problem is millionaires in Illinois are not paying their fair share; that's what's driving the budget crisis.

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