Gov. Pat Quinn was put on Earth to solve the pension deficit. This week, Gov. Quinn and Illinois lawmakers from both parties sold out retirees.
Grandma's pension check is just going to have to stretch further if she wants her medicine.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gov. Quinn just signed a law last night that will eliminate the free health care that was promised to retirees.
Of course, it's unfair to simply state "old people are getting screwed over" without mentioning the insane budget crisis or the deficit that the healthcare program would have ran up over the next few years.
Illinois has the worst budget deficit in the nation, beating out such fiscal responsibility disasters as California and New Jersey. According to a recent audit, the budget shortfall is nearly $44 billion. New Jersey came in second with about a $34 billion deficit, and California looks down right responsible with only an $11 billion deficit, reports CBS News.
The comparison should also be considered in light of each state's budget and revenue. California, for example, has a much smaller deficit, while maintaining a much higher revenue and budget. If the states' deficits were expressed as percentages of the state budget or revenue, the picture would become even more bleak for Illinois.
As for the retirees' benefits, St. Louis Today reports that the pension system is $83 billion short of what it will someday have to pay out.
So maybe, just maybe, the cuts were necessary. Tell that to Grandma, however, after she planned her retirement around her guaranteed pension and free health insurance.
Moreover, the solution might not be as simple as passing a law to cut free healthcare. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled long ago that once someone begins to receive welfare benefits, they retain a property interest in the entitlements. Cutting them outright, without any real due process, could result in a lot of litigation. There are also potential remedies for Grandma through contract law theories.
The law may have just ended retirees' free healthcare, but the battle is probably just beginning.
- Discuss Your Case With a Chicago Employment Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- State Senate Panel Votes Down New Pension Reform Bill (FindLaw's Chicago Employment Law Blog)
- Former Mayor Daley Used State's Pension System to His Advantage (FindLaw's Chicago Employment Law Blog)
- Pension Plans and ERISA (FindLaw)