‘Quite frankly, I don’t think you can use the word ‘crisis’ to describe it (unfunded pension liabilities) at the state level. It’s something we have to deal with, but it’s not something that we’re on the verge of bankruptcy on.’- John Cullerton, 2013
November 15, 2019 – Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, announced yesterday that he will retire from office in January 2020.
Jeanne Ives, a Candidate for Congress (IL-06), issued the following statement regarding Cullerton’s departure from the General Assembly: “Retirements are cause to recall a man’s record. Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, told the Sun-Times Cullerton led the Senate “with honor and distinction.” He said he has seen firsthand ‘the integrity, honesty, and humor that [Cullerton] brought to the responsibilities his office entailed.’
“I see it somewhat differently.
“No moment more perfectly encapsulated John Cullerton’s approach to public service than a comment he made in 2013, when the demand for pension reform had reached fever-pitch, and as we watched unfunded pension liabilities approach $100 Billion.
“Mr. Cullerton stated: ‘Quite frankly, I don’t think you can use the word ‘crisis’ to describe it (unfunded pension liabilities) at the state level. It’s something we have to deal with, but it’s not something that we’re on the verge of bankruptcy on.’
“Our pension crisis eats up a full one-quarter of the state budget. It crowds out funding for important initiatives like education, care for those with Developmental Disabilities, public safety and infrastructure. Ballooning pensions have absolutely sent the state into de facto bankruptcy, and many municipalities are faced with actual bankruptcy.
“But to John Cullerton, a leader in the Illinois Democrat Party: ‘There’s no story here. Nothing to see here. Get on with your lives.’ This deliberate misdirection has led the state into crisis.
“For decades, Democrats – led by John Cullerton and Mike Madigan – filled our mailboxes with glossy mailers at election time telling voters they were for the little guy, that they were standing up for you. And every election cycle, Illinois voters seemed to believe those glossy mailers.
“As Democrats’ political power grew, so did government. Yet, we all watched our quality of life decline. Our property taxes skyrocketed. Our pension crisis ballooned out of control. Since 2013, when Cullerton declared Illinois didn’t have a crisis, our pension unfunded liability has grown 37% from under $100 billion to over $134 billion – putting the futures of taxpayers and pensioners alike in jeopardy. He oversaw and voted for the income tax hikes in 2011 and 2017. Despite the extra money Democrats promised these hikes would add to the state budget, Illinois has the worst credit rating and is ranked as the worst run state in the nation according to the Mercatus Center. And perhaps most disgracefully, Illinois remains among the worst in the nation in providing for our most vulnerable citizens, we rank 47th in this regard. During his tenure as Senate President, people voted with their feet and that moved us from the 5th to the 6th most populous state. He negotiated and voted for 19 consecutive years of unbalanced/no budgets. Yes, his list of accomplishments is long.
“But John Cullerton’s tenure has been a disgrace. He and big government Democrats worked hand in hand with the state’s powerful special interests to mislead voters and to build a government that works for them, at the expense of those they were supposed to serve. Whether the on-going federal investigations have necessitated his retirement or not remains to be seen. John Cullerton’s legacy, however, is indisputable.”