A critical role of the Illinois Attorney General is to protect fundamental freedoms for our state’s residents. The Illinois Constitution is more modern than the Federal Constitution and, therefore, more specific and expansive in terms of freedoms afforded to Illinoisans.
Do you believe that the Attorney General can seek added protections by invoking the provisions of the Illinois Constitution rather than the federal constitution? If you would use the Illinois Constitution in this expansive manner, how? If no, why?
DID NOT RESPOND.
I believe the Attorney General can seek added protections by invoking provisions of the Illinois Constitution, as well as the federal constitution. I would use the Illinois Constitution to defend the interests of the people of Illinois. Specifically, I would use the Article I, Section 16 of the Illinois Constitution to seek to nullify unconstitutional irrevocable special privileges that some government retirees have received for past government affiliation.
According to the Taxpayer Education Foundation, for every dollar a state government employee has placed into the retirement system, the taxpayers of Illinois are forced to match this dollar with $4.50. Nowhere in the world would a company in the private sector match what an employee puts into their retirement by 450%. By forcing taxpayers to pay in so much for government retiree pensions, we are in fact giving government retirees special privilege disguised as pensions.
The highest paid state government retiree makes $598,000 a year, has only paid $768,000 into their retirement system, has already drawn more money out than they paid in, and is expected to draw out more than $20 million dollars due to average life expectancy and compounded cost of living adjustments. While I do not blame this individual for contracting to the best of their abilities, I would expect my government to look out for the interest of the people of Illinois, rather than giving out special privileges for past government affiliation. When you see pension payouts like this, it is obvious where the money goes in Illinois and I believe the only way to get out of this mess without increasing taxes would be to nullify unconstitutional special privileges occurring statewide and locally. I am sure it will make many government retirees upset, but this practice is not fair to the people of Illinois and must end.
Once these unconstitutional special privileges are nullified, I would encourage legislators and the governor to renegotiate pensions for government retirees that are fair to the taxpayers of Illinois, as well as create a pay scale for statewide and local government employees that is modeled off the federal government employee pay scale.
Our system of government allows states to act in many ways that are not precluded or specified by the federal laws or constitution, and one of the advantages of this approach is that Illinois is free to protect its residents’ civil rights and quality of life to an even more robust extent than the minimum threshold established in the U.S. Constitution. In provisions involving education, the environment and more, Illinois’ constitution goes above the beyond the federal constitution to spell out protections Illinois guarantees. Recognizing the state constitution’s value as a means of protecting civil rights, I sponsored its voting rights amendment while in the state Senate. As attorney general, it will be my job to uphold the state laws and constitution in addition to the U.S. Constitution, and I will utilize state-level protections to defend the rights, liberties and wellbeing of Illinoisans.
The role of state attorney general is more important today than at any time in the nation’s history as a result of the federal government’s unprecedented attacks on civil rights and the rule of law. In many cases, state attorneys general stand as the people’s last line of defense against these threats. In such an environment, it is an advantage to Illinoisans to have a strong state constitution, and I will use it whenever appropriate.