Front and center on his to-do list if elected would be reducing the political power of public employee unions, which he holds responsible for many of the fiscal ills that beset Illinois. So disdainful is he of Illinois government unions that on the campaign trail he typically refers to the largest of them, AFSCME, as “Af-scam-ee.”
Rauner says unions have “bribed” lawmakers with campaign cash to keep compensation and benefits unreasonably high compared to counterparts in the private sector, and he vows to push for a cut in pay for public employees. He also condemns as inadequate the controversial pension benefit overhaul signed into law by Quinn late last year, which unions are now challenging in court.
The only way to fix the state’s fiscal woes, Rauner insists, is to effectively do away with the current pension system, though he would not seek to eliminate benefits already earned by public workers. Instead, Rauner says, going forward they all should be shifted into 401(k)-style plans that don’t guarantee minimum retirement benefits but give workers the option to invest the money.
Workers in the private sector were long ago shifted to the more volatile 401(k) plans, he argues. However, Rauner would not have the state pay to extend Social Security coverage to those same public workers, even though that is legally required for those in the private sector whether or not they have 401(k)s.