GOP Rep. Caulkins claims pension plan far from fiscally sound
Newly elected Republican State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) thinks he knows why things have become so dysfunctional in Springfield.
“What you see in Springfield is all the result of a corrupt system where the employees now employ the employers, with the way the unions control all the politicians who make the decisions that affect their retirement benefits,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “It’s no wonder taxpayers are left holding the bag the way they always are.”
Caulkins said it should come as no surprise to anyone that Illinois now spends more than any other state in the country on pension benefits at 8.71 percent, nearly double the national average. A recent Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) report also details how pension-related costs now absorb more than one-fourth of the state’s total budget, surpassing such critical expenditures as public safety, education and social services.
Overall, Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that unfunded pension liability across the country now easily tops $1 trillion, with Illinois and West Virginia ranking in a class all their own by continuing to see rapid increases over a decade-long period extending into the year 2015. As recently as in 2018, the state’s 601-percent pension debt as a percentage of state revenues was also a record high.
“You hear the governor talk about the pension problem being one he wants to fix, but nothing he’s done to this point backs that up,” said Caulkins, who won the 101st District in November with nearly 70 percent of the vote. “You read Democrats' plan and it’s totally at odds with anything that’s fiscally sound. I always say ‘you show me your budget and I’ll know what your priorities are.’”
As more and more local governments have moved to raise taxes even higher while also cutting into core services, all in a desperate effort to pay down ever-rising pension obligations, Caulkins said it is past time that Illinois got serious about the problem.
“I think the only way to fix this is through serious negotiations and a willingness from democratic leadership to do things differently,” he said. “Right now, that doesn’t seem to be that important to them, considering what Gov. Pritzker had to say in his budget address. You have to wonder when they will get to the point when they agree enough is enough.”
The 101st House District spans parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.