On Thursday, this page praised Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to scale back pension benefits for future public employees and called for him to consider extending the state’s schedule for catching up with its pension debt. Today, we must point out the burden this budget places on state workers and teachers.

On Thursday, this page praised Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to scale back pension benefits for future public employees and called for him to consider extending the state’s schedule for catching up with its pension debt.


Today, we must point out the burden this budget places on state workers and teachers. We have heard from many public employees willing to do their part, but we agree that the governor’s proposal shifts too much of the burden.


As with everyone, how much additional income taxes state workers will have to pay (if any) varies depending on how much one earns. But some state employees could face the following under Quinn’s budget:


* Their state income tax burden rising from 3 percent to 4.5 percent.


* The amount they contribute to their pension increasing by 2 percentage points.


* A loss of 1.5 percent of their annual pay because of four furlough days.


* Yet unspecified increases in their health insurance costs.


Some state employees’ paychecks would be cut by more than 5 percent, costing them thousands annually. That’s on top of the understaffed conditions in some agencies in a state that has the lowest per-capita number of employees.


As for the teachers, their pension contributions would rise to 11.4 percent of their income — the highest in the nation, according to the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Meanwhile, the state would contribute 5.8 percent, less than the 6.2 percent private employers must contribute to Social Security.


Under this budget proposal, the state would shift from being a deadbeat payer of its bills to a potentially deadbeat employer. Quinn needs to find ways to lessen the blow.


Quinn told us Thursday that his budget’s critics must offer alternatives and not “chirp on the sidelines.” We continue to believe a downtown Chicago casino is a viable revenue-generating vehicle. While crafting a gambling bill is difficult because of the myriad interests that have to be satisfied, we’re not sure it’s any harder than coming to a deal on these changes with public employee unions.


State Journal-Register