Ives: 'Honest conversation' needed with unions about pension reform
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) welcomes the role of serving as the face of change.
“We have to demand something different and I’m into being the leader of the revolt,” Ives told the Prairie State Wire upon hearing news Illinois now ranks No. 49 in the country in taxpayer burden.
The Truth in Accounting survey also concluded the average Illinois taxpayer now owes $50,400 in debt, based on 2016 government financial records. Overall, the cash-strapped state has total liabilities of $235.9 billion, with just $25.5 billion in assets.
The state’s faltering reputation comes after well over a decade of uninterrupted Democratic rule, including 11 straight years of Democrats occupying the governor’s mansion before the 2014 election of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Even with Rauner in power, earlier this year Democrats, with the aid of a handful of Republican lawmakers, banded together to override a veto by Rauner to permanently increase the personal income tax by 32 percent.
“Once again, Illinois is an outlier when it comes to states having their finances in order,” Ives said. “People are waking up to the problem, and instead of fighting with the ruling class they’re just deciding to leave the state altogether.”
Ives recently began circulating petitions in anticipation of a 2018 Republican primary run against Rauner. She said seeing so many “good responsible people” choosing to flee the state instead of dealing with all its wayward direction is part of the impetus for her run.
“We have to have an honest conversation with the unions about what we can afford as a state and about pension reforms,” she said.
In handing the state an overall "F" grade, Truth in Accounting researchers also highlighted that the state now owes nearly $117 billion in pension liabilities, or roughly half of its $210 billion in overall debt. In 2016 alone, pension liabilities grew by another $8 billion.
“We’ve known for a while things where headed in this direction,” Ives said. “Until we change things, we’ll continue to see the outmigration of some of our most valuable taxpayers and municipalities will continue to pile on debt.”