Nationally the issue of state-level taxpayer-funded pension systems fills the headlines daily. If you’re not seeing them – you can get a daily digest of them at websites like Pension Watch. Illinois has been privileged to read the pioneering work of Bill Zettler on the issue for the past several years.
Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune’s Ray Long reported this:
Brady won’t rule out record $50 billion borrowing idea to help state budget
Republican governor candidate Bill Brady has been blasting Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn for taxing, spending and borrowing, but today Brady refused to rule out borrowing a record $50 billion to shore up state finances.
“All options have to be considered,” Brady said.
Brady’s willingness to consider massive borrowing for the state employee pension systems came in response to questions at a downtown news conference where the candidate sought in vain to focus on his endorsement by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a darling of Republicans and conservatives.
Later in the piece, his “spokeswoman” Patty Schuh “played down” the statement by Brady.
It is not an option he has embraced,” Schuh said of Brady, nor is it an idea he has given serious consideration at this time.
Bill Brady is a busy guy these days, and he seems headed for victory on election day. No doubt, as with all campaigns, it’s easy to imagine his staff is scared to death that the candidate will say something that would blow up his candidacy. In order to avoid that possibility, aides need to do a better job of prepping him on big issues like the enormous public sector employee pension scam.
Thanks to the fantastic work of pension expert Bill Zettler, Brady’s staff need only study Zettler’s work – all of which can be found here.
His staff can then draft bullet points and make Brady learn the basics. Like the fact that only about 26 percent of the underfunding of the state pension system is due to the General Assembly. The 74 percent is due to employee’s not paying into the system nearly enough, over-paying employees, and over-estimating the return on investment. All of this and more can be learned in articles like this one from Bill Zettler:
The Four Rules of “Too”: The Real Reason Why Illinois Pensions Are in Trouble
The campaign will also learn that only 5 percent of the population of the state is employed by the state. Bill Brady should be more concerned about offending the 95 percent than the 5 percent.
On this page – Bill Zettler has included at the end of each of his articles a section titled “what the next governor should do.” The Brady staff should print all of them for Bill and the next time he’s on the plane, or on a long car ride, he should be encouraged to read them.
This column has taken each of Bill’s recommendations (and more are on the way) and offered them up to our readers as stand alone articles. Here are the links:
The Zettler Rx: What the next governor should do to clean up the state pension mess
The Zettler Rx: There are solutions – we only need leaders with brains and guts
The Zettler Rx: Brady needs to show courage when it comes to teacher pay and pensions
The Zettler Rx: Stop Intergenerational Theft
The Zettler Rx: Bill Brady speaking Chris Christie-esque on pension issue?
With that said, let me shift gears. Governing a state the size of Illinois is a serious business. There’s a big mess that needs to be cleaned up. For many years, campaign contributions have purchased legislation giving state union employees exorbitant pay, benefits, and pensions.
Anyone talking about putting current and future Illinois taxpayers $50 billion dollars more in debt has completely lost their mind. It’s terribly ironic that on the day New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visits Illinois, Bill Brady, for a moment, anyway, suggests that something this stupid is “on the table.”
If Brady wants to become a hero to fiscal conservatives like Gov. Christie, he had better not embrace such a borrowing scheme. And Brady should get to know Bill Zettler and learn what Zettler can teach him. I’d be happy to put the two Bills in contact with each other.