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Pension reform key to solving state, CPS woes

The Illinois State Capitol. | AP file

Follow @csteditorialsGovernor Bruce Rauner began 2017 with optimism that he and members of the General Assembly would find consensus on a budget that included much-needed structural changes to make our state more competitive and attract new jobs.

We’re now halfway through the legislative session and Democrats have been unable, and seemingly unwilling, to advance a balanced budget with those much-needed changes.

In the interim, the governor has presented a win-win plan that jump-starts cost-saving reforms while helping Chicago Public Schools students.

Comprehensive pension reform will free up the dollars needed to help CPS and address the state’s massive unfunded pension liability at the same time. The proposal delivers an extra $215 million to CPS while delivering statewide pension reform that would ultimately save taxpayers nearly $2 billion a year.

With our unfunded pension liabilities at $130 billion and annual pension expenses at nearly one-third of state general revenues, this is much-needed reform.

We know Democrats support the policy that drives this compromise. Now they must decide if they will set politics aside and put the state first to pass the legislation. It can be on the governor’s desk in days if Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrat leadership support it.

Moving pension reform forward can be the first step to ending the budget impasse. Let’s work together and get this done.​

Leslie Munger, deputy governor of Illinois

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A reminder of Planned Parenthood’s good works

Kudos to Neil Steinberg‘s reminder of the good work done by Planned Parenthood despite its demonization by slash-and-burn Republicans, who are blinded by misplaced hubris (“A mother of children, thanks to Planned Parenthood” — March 23). They should focus instead on the significance of that organization’s first name: Planned. If every pregnancy were planned, abortions would not be needed except to save the life of the mother.

Planned Parenthood provides expert, sound counsel for an array of women’s health issues. Only about 10 percent of its budget goes for safe, never frivolous abortions, the superior alternative to the dangerous back-alley abortions of old that often left women barren for life, with some dying from it. To take away the modest federal funding it now receives, as the triumphant Republican Party is trying to do, would be inhumane to women whose lives are improved, and in some cases saved, by their expert assistance, as Steinberg’s story bears out.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Power of money

The Koch brothers promise millions to a support fund to help House members who vote against the health care bill. Welcome to the Billionaire Oligarchy of America (“Billionaire Koch brothers go shopping for politicians” — March 23).

Martin Nicholson, Niles

Governing eludes Trump

In the past, President Donald Trump’s power was rooted in money. He was able to bully his way through business deals because he controlled the money. He believed he was a powerful man because people lined up to do business with him, but what he never understood was that it was the money that held the power. As president, his money doesn’t matter. The only leverage he’s ever used effectively is meaningless, and when people don’t bend to his will, he pitches a fit and issues idle threats and meaningless ultimatums. The President of the United States has a wealth of power, but Trump will never be able to tap its source. It’s beyond his comprehension.

Tony Galati, Lemont

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