With one proposal to pay off Illinois’ pension debt asking the typical homeowner to pay more than $1,900 in additional property taxes for the next 30 years, the stakes for pension reform have never been clearer.View Report
Senate Democrats killed a chance this week to rein in government spending, instead siding with government unions that prioritize their own power over the fiscal health of the state. Illinois taxpayers pay nearly $15,000 per state worker in health care costs alone under the most recent contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Illinois’ largest government worker union is likely stalling contract negotiations in hopes of dealing with a new governor in 2019.
While the Better Government Association has claimed Illinois’ budget contains no fat to trim, a deeper analysis reveals the state has many areas of expensive inefficiency to reform in state and local government costs, the Medicaid program and K-12 education.
AFSCME obstructed progress for months on a new contract for state workers. Whether AFSCME and the state are at impasse in negotiations now sits with the Illinois courts – and the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision not to take a direct appeal of the case means taxpayers must continue to pay an additional $35 million to $40 million each month in health care costs alone.
The highest state worker salaries in the nation, overtime pay, generous state pensions, taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage and free retiree health insurance for career workers combine to give the average Illinois AFSCME worker six-figure annual compensation.
Lisa Madigan lost the first round in her quest to stop state worker pay during Illinois’ budget impasse. But that doesn’t mean the matter is settled. The attorney general could take this issue all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The union representing state workers is currently holding a strike authorization vote. Understanding whom AFSCME represents better equips taxpayers in evaluating AFSCME’s demands and whether a strike is reasonable.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is seeking a court order to stop paychecks to state employees. Many speculate she is trying to force the General Assembly into a budget deal – one that would be bad for Illinoisans. But the General Assembly doesn’t have to be bullied into a bad budget deal. It can pass an appropriations measure to fund state worker payrolls and keep government from shutting down.
Attempts to cut off state worker pay need not end in a tax hike.
From 2005 to 2014, AFSCME worker salaries grew 5 times faster than Illinois workers’ earnings.