Saturday, October 6, 2012

Does “Unlucky Article XIII” on Nov. Ballot
Cheat Voters?

Author: John Kindt*

The Constitutional Amendment to Article XIII on the November ballot is cleverly drafted to concentrate more monetary power in the same Springfield legislative leaders who have de facto bankrupted the Illinois Treasury. With $83 billion in projected liabilities, Illinois has the nation’s largest state budget crisis.

This “Unlucky Article XIII Amendment” is crafted to strip local governments and voters of current decision-making prerogatives and transfer those decisions to Springfield. As such, it is lose-lose for the entire political spectrum of Illinois voters.

Among other subterfuges, the Article XIII Amendment overrules and destroys the Illinois Constitutional protection against eliminating or reducing earned benefits, such as pensions for state retirees who by state law cannot receive Social Security and, in many instances, cannot receive Medicare and Medicaid.

Furthermore, thousands of elderly retirees and current state employees were mandated by Illinois law to pay into Illinois retirement systems and then legally prohibited from having Social Security.

This Illinois Article XIII Amendment contains more words than the entire first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the Bill of Rights. The obvious intent of the verbose Illinois Article XIII Amendment is to hide its true impacts from voters in a 700-word avalanche of unnecessary and deceptive words.

Marketing experts know that few voters will read beyond the benign first sentences and that voters will be inclined to vote “yes” in that benign spirit. While the voters may wish to vote to concentrate more monetary power in Springfield leadership, they should not be tricked into misdirecting their votes and eliminating their current Constitutional safeguards by the confusing 700 words in the Article XIII Amendment.

For example, hidden in the “last sentence” is the new Constitutional provision: “(d) Nothing in this Section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law, ordinance, resolution, rule, policy or practice that further restricts the ability to provide a “benefit increase”, “emolument increase”, or “beneficial determination” as those terms are used under this Section.”

Thus, this new Article XIII Amendment overrules the current Constitutional safeguard known as the “non-impairment provision” in Article XIII, sec. 5, of the Illinois Constitution.

As confirmed by expert memoranda, for example, the State Universities Annuitants Association memoranda (at, June 8, 2012), the new Article XIII Amendment was drafted outside normal processes—including the Springfield Legislative Reference Bureau.

Among other problems for local taxpayers, the language overriding the “non-impairment provision” was added at virtually the last minute as the “last sentence” hidden at the end of 700 words.

The legislative voting process obviously misled numerous Springfield legislators who voted to place the Article XIII Amendment on the November ballot—when the Amendment’s language had not been properly vetted.

The Article XIII Amendment has also been disguised with various monikers including “HCA49” and “HJRCA49,” and it was originally floated by Speaker Michael Madigan’s office as “Amendment 5.”

On the ballot certified in September by the State Board of Elections, none of these issues are even mentioned in the summary, the “Explanation of Amendment.” Instead there is an emphasized caveat in bold letters which arguably encourages voters to vote “yes” by beginning with the warning: “Note: The Failure To Vote This Ballot ….”

In contrast with the certified ballot’s bold print emphasis instructing the vote on the Article XIII Amendment, voters will have to play “hide-and-seek” to find and decipher the 700 words of the Article XIII Amendment—before they go to the polls. The entire 700 words are not even printed on the ballot.

After the November election, the public outrage will begin when all public employee organizations (such as teachers), budget reformers, good-government civic groups, and even misled Springfield legislators finally realize that Illinois voters were deceived into voting “yes” for the Article XIII Amendment.

By voting “yes” for the “Unlucky Article XIII Amendment,” the voters will have destroyed their current Illinois Constitutional protections and concentrated huge new budgetary powers in the same Springfield leadership which has caused the Illinois budgetary crisis.

  *With 3 earned graduate degrees in law, John Kindt has often testified as an academic before Congress/state legislatures regarding business and legal policy issues.


  1. The wording is: "Nothing in this Section shall prevent" (the passage of a law that takes away pension rights). But the passaage of such a law is already prevented by language not in that section. Why is that undermined by the proposed amendment?

    Don't get me wrong: I don't favour the amendment. I just don't see why it would be as drastic as claimed.

  2. Section D talks about restricting the government's ability to provide an increased benefit in the future. The clear intent is to provide a minimum requirement that must be met in order to increase future pension benefits. Section D simply states that future laws can be passed to make it more restrictive to enhance future benefits. The section does not address the impairment, reduction or diminution of current benefits. Therefore, the constitutional "impairment" clause is unaffected by this amendment. Courts will still have to determine the extent of the impairment clause but they had to do this anyway. So I am not clear how this proposed amendment impairs the "impairment" clause.