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Retired teachers urge voters to reject amendment to state constitution

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 5:00 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

The Grundy County Retired Teachers Association is urging voters to reject an amendment to the state constitution that would severely restrict the rights of teachers currently working in Illinois.

The Nov. 6 general election ballot this year includes a question that would require a three-fifths majority vote of government bodies to improve benefits for public employees.

There is no similar extraordinary majority requirement to diminish benefits or pensions under current law or in the discussion stages.

This is a serious threat to young people who aspire to enter the teaching profession. If approved, a constitutional amendment would inject severe restrictions into the collective bargaining process and teachers’ rights to fight for fair contracts.

The impact on those already retired is still under question, but would probably not be significant, if it exists at all.

But this isn’t about those of us who have already achieved our retirement rewards. This is about the younger men and women who take out student loans, study hard to get a college degree, and then enter the noble profession of teaching.

It is unconscionable to determine that it’s OK to require 60-percent approval by a government body to reward someone, but a mere 51 percent to penalize them.

The supermajority rule would extend to all public retirement benefits under state and local control, including the retirement benefits of teachers.

Furthermore, it can be suggested that the amendment was purposefully worded to confuse voters.  The amendment on the ballot reads:

“If you believe the Illinois Constitution should not be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote NO.”

I’m a retired school teacher and I scratch my head when I read that question. However, the appropriate response by any fair-minded and responsible citizens will most definitely be a NO vote.

It’s hard enough for young people today to struggle paying off college loans so they can pursue a dream of teaching.

It would be a shame to attack their security with this sort of radical constitutional change.

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