LOWV: Vote 'No' to Constitutional Amendment Question on Nov. 6 Ballot

Letter to the Editor: The League of Women Voters suggests not fiddling with the state's constitution because the amendment proposed on the Nov. 6 ballot would cede authority to the minority.

To the Editor:

On Nov. 6, Illinois voters will vote on a proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution. This proposal would amend the constitution to require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, as well as the governing bodies of any 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 League of Women Voters of Illinois opposes this proposal and urges voters to vote no.

The league’s opposition is unrelated to the pension issues the proposal raises but rather focuses on the  three-fifths majority requirement. The League of Women Voters strongly supports governmental systems that are transparent, representative, accountable and responsive. By requiring a super majority, this amendment, if passed, would strip the deliberative decision-making authority of governmental units and cede that authority to the minority.

The league agrees with the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure that “whenever a vote of more than a majority is required to take an action, control is taken from the majority and given to the minority. The higher the vote
required, the smaller the minority to which control passes.

Further, it is the league’s position that the Constitution is not the proper place to remedy a larger problem with a narrow, single solution, in this case, pension reform. If the General Assembly thinks this provision is necessary, it should consider introducing and passing legislation to modify the existing statute not codifying it in the constitution.

The blue book that voters received from the Illinois Secretary of State provides the language of the amendment. We encourage voters to take a look at it, reflect on the league position and then consider this amendment’s effect when they vote on Nov. 6.

Sarah L.Collins, President
League of Women Voters of Central Kane County

Jon October 17, 2012 at 09:21 PM
While I agree that voters should vote "no" to this amendment, I think it is important to also focus on the pension issue with the amendment. Not only is is wrong to allow politicians to take away already promised pensions for state employees, it's unconstitutional because those pensions are guaranteed and thus 'vested' at the time they are placed in the pension fund for retirement use. Let's not make Illinois look any more absurd than it already looks with all the budget and political issues. This is not a political issue in the first place, it is a right or wrong issue. Those employees of the state were promised something and bet their livelihoods and retirement that these pensions would be there when they did in fact retire. Let's not politicians and cronies on both sides of the aisle have the ability to withdraw these benefits whenever they please. This is the more important issue concerning this amendment.
Gary Rhoades October 18, 2012 at 03:17 AM
If as it appears the wording of the change is the only thing being changed then I as a Libertarian feel that the only thing I can do is to vote yes on this measure. There is so much graft and backscratching in every layer of government anymore that any effort to retard the growth of the benefits is of vital importance to the taxpayers.
Max October 18, 2012 at 04:38 AM
LOWV are looking through the wrong end of the telescope at this issue. Firstly, it absolutely should take a super-majority to enact any measure which places an expanded financial burden on the general population. Secondly, the smallest possible majority -- often "one" -- already controls many votes. The ability to become that special "one" is something to which every legislator aspires. Lastly, super majorities help prevent ill-conceived measures from becoming law, and act as a break on any rush to judgment.
Kate October 19, 2012 at 12:48 AM
U of I Professor John Kindt's statement on the amendment: This Illinois Article XIII Amendment contains more words than the entire first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the Bill of Rights. The obvious intent of the verbose Illinois Article XIII Amendment is to hide its true impacts from voters in a 700-word avalanche of unnecessary and deceptive words . . . . For example, hidden in the “last sentence” is the new Constitutional provision: “(d) Nothing in this Section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law, ordinance, resolution, rule, policy or practice that further restricts the ability to provide a “benefit increase”, “emolument increase”, or “beneficial determination” as those terms are used under this Section.” Thus, this new Article XIII Amendment overrules the current Constitutional safeguard known as the “non-impairment provision” in Article XIII, sec. 5, of the Illinois Constitution. As confirmed by expert memoranda, for example, the State Universities Annuitants Association memoranda (at www.suaa.org, June 8, 2012), the new Article XIII Amendment was drafted outside normal processes—including the Springfield Legislative Reference Bureau. Among other problems for local taxpayers, the language overriding the “non-impairment provision” was added at virtually the last minute as the “last sentence” hidden at the end of 700 words. http://news.illinois.edu/news/12/1001amendent49_JohnKindt.html


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