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This just in…

Wednesday, Mar 18, 2009

* 12:31 pm - From the Illinois Federation of Teachers…

Any legislator who supports these pension cuts will automatically not receive an IFT endorsement.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


117 Comments
  1. - George - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:32 pm:

    Does that mean they support an income tax increase to 6%?


  2. - Belle - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:33 pm:

    I always wait with breathless anticipation for their endorsement….NOT!


  3. - wow - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:34 pm:

    Not speaking on the IFT’s behalf but they have supported tax increases for the last few years and candidates have not been endorsed because they opposed raising taxes.


  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:39 pm:

    Way to get into the spirit of shared sacrifice, IFT. You did notice that education got an increase in the proposal?


  5. - HoBoSkillet - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:41 pm:

    ===You did notice that education got an increase in the proposal?===

    Perhaps they spoke to soon…


  6. - Ghost - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:43 pm:

    So no cuts to education, but no pension reform to help pay for the expansions.

    IFT, where you can be part of the problem, not the solution.

    The Gov neds to dissolve the unions in IL (orepeal the labor act) like they did in IN and MO.


  7. - huh? - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:46 pm:

    The problem is that teachers are fundamentally underpaid. So besides being underpaid, now they want to mess with their retirement even more, after they put in 35 years of work. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I think that is more time that has to be put in on the job then any other position in this state. Can you blame them for being upset? With the federal system you are done at 20 years, Illinois State Police is currently at 26 years and 8 Months, and you have 80% of your full time salary for life, with benefits.

    This all is being proposed while their retirement funds have been raided for how long now by the Executive and Legislative branches to pay for things that have nothing to do with education. They have a right to be angry.


  8. - frustrated GOP - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:52 pm:

    How about we tax pension starting at $75,000. See if they endorse that plan. Cute them no us crap.


  9. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:52 pm:

    IFT only endorses Dems and most of those in Chicago. Would have to take them out in the primary and most are incumbants so there are only a few that are vulnerable to be scared by this.


  10. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:53 pm:

    ==teachers are fundamentally underpaid==
    Debatable for a 180-day work year, but I’ll let it slide. Teachers do have tenure, which is about the best guarantee in the workplace around anymore. Besides, they always say they are not in the profession for the money…


  11. - Amy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:54 pm:

    teachers underpaid? perhaps some of them. their salaries are based on a year that includes months they are not working. administrators are overpaid, those school superintendents in particular, and on the community college level, the higher ups are positively nefarious in their dealings. but underpaid? probably not the best description of the situation.


  12. - Gene Parmesan - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:54 pm:

    Seems like a wonderful time to get rid of tenure.


  13. - make it so - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    I find it hard to feel sorry for teachers and believe that the union is a hugh part of the problem. Two family members are recently retired teachers. Their pension is more than my full time salary of $55,000. Both also will be eligiable to collect social security since they held part-time jobs, during the summer, and paid into the system.


  14. - November - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    –The problem is that teachers are fundamentally underpaid. So besides being underpaid, now they want to mess with their retirement even more, after they put in 35 years of work–

    No one forces teachers to become teachers. They take the job knowing what teachers make.


  15. - Lake Voter - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    That is so mean spirited of them.


  16. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    To Huh: For the record, Quinn said in his speech that the pensions of current employees and retirees will not be affected. He’s focusing on the pension plans of future employees. You could make a good case against messing even with future teachers’ pensions — because, for instance, that will make it significantly harder for universities to hire outstanding faculty, given that the pension system for new hires will be less attractive than what can be found in other states — but please keep in mind that Quinn is not targeting the pensions of current or retired teachers. (For the record, I’m an Illinois teacher, and the IFT is my union. I’m inclined to break with the union on this one.)


  17. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:56 pm:

    It’s a little early for the IFT and others to cave. They are doing their jobs.

    When the knives come out, as Carol Marin puts it, will middle class tax increases be the only “fiscal reform” left?

    At this stage, we need to follow the example of the IFT and tell our waffl-y legislators…No.

    Here’s an opening offer we middle class folks should proffer en masse: raise the exemption to $8000. This is neutral for a family of four making $80,000, hardly a wealthy group. Problem with that? Increase furlough days. Find some more loopholes. Shut down some no bid contracts. Borrow more from the pension fund. Renegotiate some of those fat state rental contracts. It’s doable.
    Do your jobs.


  18. - Y2D - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:56 pm:

    “Cute them no us crap.” what language is your native?


  19. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 12:59 pm:

    ==The problem is that teachers are fundamentally underpaid.==

    Ummm, sorry, no they are not anymore.

    Just did a quick calculation on the grade school district I grew up in. Average pay, 72K average experience 11.6 years.

    Or to use another example. A Nurse with a Masters makes $113,896 a year on a 9 month contract with 22 years experience. My wife has a masters in Nursing with 16 years experience and does not make close to that working 12 months a year.

    There are teachers there on 9 month contracts who have BS degrees making 74K. Spare me the underpaid thing.

    So spare me the underpaid thing.

    FYI this district is in Dolton, IL not exactly a wealthy area.


  20. - tanstaafl - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:00 pm:

    Cassandra - Borrow from the pension fund? Are you kidding? It is not borrowing, when you take money from a fund and never repay it, it is more like stealing. Also, you woudl “borrow” from a fund which is already tens of billions in the red?


  21. - Obamas' Puppy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:01 pm:

    Cut benefits, raid the pension funds and increase contributions for the same benefit. John Filan has never been happier.


  22. - George - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:03 pm:

    Problem with raising the exemption to $8,000 - that would cost an extra $1.1 billion - lowering your net revenue from $2.6 billion to $1.4 billion.

    That’s hardly worth a tax increase vote.


  23. - Taxman - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:03 pm:

    Cut AFSCME, but not teachers.

    Teachers ARE underpaid - especially considering the crucial role they hold in our society.

    AFSCME members have enjoyed GREAT contracts - the envy of the nation - the past years yet they still complain for paying a little more for healthcare and retirement. Its time to ante up.

    Teachers have a much more vital role. I would be open to tweeking the proposal requiring only teachers making over a certain amount to pay more.

    The world is not going collapse if we force state employees to pay more and take a few furlough days.


  24. - Slick Willy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    Cassandra is a lot like Rod, in that she has no problem sticking it to state employees.


  25. - make it so - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    Remember - teachers work for school districts and are not state employees.


  26. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    From the IEA today from their president, Ken Swanson–

    Springfield, IL — March 18, 2009 — “We had expected that the first budget presented by Gov. Pat Quinn would be a move toward reversing the years of neglect and mismanagement by Rod Blagojevich.

    “That is why we are profoundly disappointed to see that Gov. Quinn, like his predecessor, apparently is willing to ignore the school funding crisis and the state’s structural deficit while balancing the state budget on the backs of public education employees and state government workers.

    “It was the irresponsible actions of past General Assemblies and governors that caused the state pension deficit. Yet, instead of asking the legislature to raise the revenue to address the shortfall, Gov. Quinn would hand every employee a 2 percent pay cut in the form of an increased contribution to retirement.

    “Instead of making certain the state meets its obligations to the state pension systems, the governor is asking that the scheduled funding request will be reduced by two-thirds, exacerbating the underfunding of the Teachers Retirement System and the other state systems.

    “Instead of offering a plan to fix the state’s broken school funding system, Gov. Quinn allows the current system to stand, even though children in every part of the state are being denied the opportunity for a high quality education due to inadequate funding.

    “Instead of directing that the federal stimulus funds be used as President Obama intended, to preserve jobs and programs in public education, Gov. Quinn would use these one-time funds to balance the state budget.

    “Instead of supporting efforts to make sure the best and brightest continue to choose education as a career, Gov. Quinn is proposing retirement disincentives that surely will drive some highly qualified young people away from a career in education.

    “The governor’s proposal is unacceptable to the 133,000 members of the Illinois Education Association.

    “During the spring legislative session, we will work in a positive way to pass a budget that is not balanced on the backs of hard working school employees and which addresses our structural deficit and gives every student the opportunity to attend a great public school.”


  27. - Tired of it - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    Not sure if this is the right thread to post my thoughts, but here goes. I, for one, am tired of education never having to take the cuts the rest of state government is expected to take. I did not hear the budget address, but I saw somewhere else they are proposing INCREASES in education. Folks, we can’t AFFORD increases. Time to stop making education the sacred cow that can’t be cut. Frankly, I think a big part of the problems with educating the kids these days is that there are all these uninvolved parents who don’t teach their children to value education and don’t make little Susie and Johnny do anything they don’t want to, school-wise. Maybe if teachers would stop having to spend half their day disciplining kids and could spend that time actually educating them instead, kids would be better prepared to face the real world after graduation. Throwing money at the schools is not always the answer.


  28. - IFTea Party - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    Maybe Quinn can offer up a new plan that will eliminate the need to reform Taechers Pensions. Raise the income tax to (except for teachers)8% and direct the surplus to allow for 25% pay raise for our “think about the Children” Teachers. Also lets increase the amount they will recieve at pension time. It is all about the teachers and don’t you forget that.


  29. - George - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:06 pm:

    “make it so” - The Teachers Retirement System is controlled and funded by the state.


  30. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:07 pm:

    Cassandra, you advocate increasing furlough days for state employees. That’s nice, of course, unless you’re a state employee who doesn’t make a whole lot to begin with. (My wife, who has 20 years experience in her field, earns about $30 K working full time for the state, year-round; she has a four-year degree.) Supporters of extended furloughs (how long a furlough?) want to see those employees take a pay cut. (Yes, that’s better than losing your job, but who in the lowest paid jobs can afford a furlough? Would you want to take a pay cut if you’re doing your job well?) Those same employees then have to work still harder when they come back from furlough because the work has piled up. (And before it begins, please, folks, don’t start branding every state employee as a useless, lazy bureaucrat. That’s a cheap shot I hope I won’t see here.)


  31. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:08 pm:

    Tired of it–

    So, do you have a solution other than cutting money? Send the parents to parenting school?


  32. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:08 pm:

    In a strange coincidence, I’ve decided not to vote for any Illinois Federation of Teachers Endorsed Candidates.


  33. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:09 pm:

    Uh, Slick Willy, I also said find some more corporate loopholes, cut some (ok, a lot) of those no-bid contracts and those overpriced rental agreements…somehow, I doubt that many state employees hold no-bid contracts or rent their property to the state.


  34. - make it so - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    Did the state do anything to fix the hole in the pension system that allowed school districts to inflate a teacher or administrators salary for a year so that they could stick it to the pension system?


  35. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    ===Any legislator who supports these pension cuts will automatically not receive an IFT endorsement.===

    Memo to the IFT: Maybe you should sit out the next several election cycles, save the money you’d otherwise waste on campaigns, and use that to off-set the cuts? For the most part, your endorsements won’t be missed.

    The GOP alternative is to slash a billion from education. How does that sound?


  36. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:19 pm:

    Steve, my thoughts exactly. I am happy to be working and have benefits, but at my pay, I cannot afford unpaid days off. If I made double what I make now, I wouldn’t have a problem. But I make less than 30K/year and have kids. And I am single. I’m not saying I don’t favor these kinds of solutions, but it hits home for me.


  37. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:22 pm:

    Make it so….yes, they fixed that loophole a couple years ago: the local school district is on the hook for the excess pension liability.


  38. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:22 pm:

    No one should be shocked by any of this.The mission statement of public education isn’t education: it’s how does a successful rent seeking union buy politicians who can overpay them.When PE teachers can make a 100K a year and retire before 65 you know there’s a reason politicians get campaign contributions from the education lobby.


  39. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:23 pm:

    Make it so–the state passed a law in 2005 that caps teacher and admin salaries that are reported to TRS to 6% a year. No more 20% bump ups for pensions as in the past.

    That does not preclude districts to give administrtors money for their annuities or life insurance plans or other incentives. Could get more salary but only allowed to report 6% increase annually to TRS for pension purposes.


  40. - Fan of the Game - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:24 pm:

    George,

    TRS is controlled by the state, but it is funded by employees and insufficiently funded by the state. That’s why there is a huge unfunded indebtedness in the system.

    The IFT has never endorsed a candidate for whom I have voted, so its refusal to endorse certain candidates doesn’t concern me. The IEA raises some valid concerns in its comments, especially about the raids and insufficient funding of TRS pensions and the lack of school funding reform. However, I’ve never voted for a candidate the IEA has endorsed, either.


  41. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:24 pm:

    Under Blago and Jones, didn’t education funding increase about $1 billion (yes, a billion). Compared to the rest of State government, which has generally suffered the last six years, that’s pretty good. But IFT and IEA want more, more, more. How much is enough? Another billion?

    And as Steve said, the Governor is talking about new hires. They can decide to become a teacher or work for the State, or not.

    This is unions fighting to preserve themselves, not who they represent.


  42. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    From the IFT Legislative Platform:
    “Seek or support legislation to Ensure minimum salaries, fringe benefits, due process and/or tenure under law for all teachers (Pre-K through university)”
    IFT is just doing its job. How misguided their purpose is in today’s reality…?


  43. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    I meant a $1 billion increase. The Governor’s budget includes another increase. As I said, how much is enough for IFT and IEA?


  44. - Tired of it - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:36 pm:

    Nearly Normal - all I’m saying is that maybe we could possibly keep education at level (gasp!) funding for a year or two instead of always increasing it so that politicians can say “I supported funding increases for education” when election time rolls around. Most other state agencies would be thrilled to stay at level funding.

    And of course there’s no legislative fix for bad parenting. All I’m saying is that throwing more money at schools doesn’t always fix the problem. Elementary and secondary education have been getting increases for YEARS. Have we seen dramatically better test results or other indicators that schools are improving? I hope we are and that I just missed those glowing reports.


  45. - spfldadm - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:40 pm:

    I think it is time for everyone to realize the financial situation the state is in. It will be in everyone best interest to give a little. I am a state employee, if I have to give up a little, so be it. It should be the same whether I am a teacher, work in the private sector, a retiree, or a goverment employee. Lets all not be greedy and enjoy what we have. Let work for a better Illinois and United States.


  46. - Burb Girl - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 1:44 pm:

    The “Nightmare in Springfield” continues, huh? Different day, different players, same party in control - what did YOU expect?

    Borrowing from the Pensions should NOT be allowed, yet the IFT supported how many Dems last cycle?

    Ever heard of the adage, “be careful what you wish for, you just may get it?”


  47. - EmptySuitParade - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:03 pm:

    Can anyone explain what a IEA/Ift is worth these days?


  48. - Steve Downstate - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:04 pm:

    For the record…The Steve who posted at 1:22 is a different Steve than me (who posted earlier in support of state employees). From here on, I’ll try to post as Steve Downstate if the discussion continues. Thanks.


  49. - Unsure - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:09 pm:

    Does anyone know what the specific details are of the Pension Reform Plan.


  50. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:15 pm:

    As the husband of a former schoolteacher, I don’t see teachers being underpaid. I do see a problem with the districts and the state not living up to the contracts that they sign. I also have an issue with those who “know” what teachers do for their jobs and what their compensation should be. That’s for another posting, though.

    If districts and TRS are stupid enough to agree to contracts that they cannot afford, then voters need to take care of this.

    Lastly, one last ax to grind: HS teachers make boatloads more money than elementary school teachers for no apparent reason. In my district, 28 years at the ES level roughly equals 6 years at the HS. If you’re looking for internal strife that only life in a union helps to keep quelled, that is it.


  51. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:18 pm:

    It’s amazing how people in this purportedly “blue” state sound like frothing R’s when their wallets are being discussed.


  52. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    Hey Empty,
    Its worth a lot more than anything you can offer.


  53. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:26 pm:

    I would trust Quinn to implement a good fiscal policy, however, if he doesn’t get re-elected we are right back where we started from-with only a lot more money too waste. Quite a pickle.


  54. - One of Three Puppets - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:26 pm:

    Let’s remember the reason we are having this pension discussion is due to the fact that pension funding by the state has always been the last priority. Teachers in the state pay almost 10% of their salary and this new proposal will make them pay 12%. That will make them go from having one of the top five pension contributions in the nation to having the HIGHEST contribution in the country. All of this because the state did not do its job properly funding the pension plans on an annual basis. Let’s get real here. They can’t use a credit card to pay their contribution like the state can.


  55. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:28 pm:

    Memo to Quinn,
    You want a war? We’re ready!


  56. - huh? - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:37 pm:

    “Ummm, sorry, no they are not anymore.

    Just did a quick calculation on the grade school district I grew up in. Average pay, 72K average experience 11.6 years.

    Or to use another example. A Nurse with a Masters makes $113,896 a year on a 9 month contract with 22 years experience. My wife has a masters in Nursing with 16 years experience and does not make close to that working 12 months a year.

    There are teachers there on 9 month contracts who have BS degrees making 74K. Spare me the underpaid thing.

    So spare me the underpaid thing.

    FYI this district is in Dolton, IL not exactly a wealthy area.”

    You are speaking of crook…opps I meant COOK county. Here is a more realistic number for the average on salaries in this state for teachers. This is state wide, with the Chicago and outlaying suburbs factored in. I mention this because the base salary for these school districts is SIGNIFICANTLY higher then it is through out the rest of the state. If you were to factor out the counties of Will, Lake, Cook, Kane, Dupage as well as Kendall, you would see a huge difference in these numbers.

    http://www.aft.org/salary/2007/download/SalarySurvey-IL.pdf

    And for you guys stating that teachers only work 9 months out of the year, you have no idea what so ever of what goes on in education, period.


  57. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:39 pm:

    This nonsense has Filan writtn all over it. He’s always had it in for state employees. Spend money like a drunken sailor and expect state employees to pay for it. He raises income tax 50% and only nets 2.5 billion then steals from pension funds to balance the budget. Filan needs a permanent furlough.


  58. - BigDog - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    I don’t have any problem with the current pay scale of teachers in this state, but they have to realize that everyone has to share the pain to some degree. $11.5B doesn’t get taken care of with bandaids. My biggest problem with the teachers is that when they have a cause they want to rally around, they liberally use their positions as “Your Kids’ Educators” as a bully pulpit to generate support from parents. It turns me off when any group tries to elevate themselves as somehow more important than all other working class folks just because they have an “in” with a ginormous voting bloc (in this case, all parents of school age children). Hey, I work for a living too, and for all 12 months of the year!


  59. - Cuts for Everyone - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:52 pm:

    I have not heard anything from legislators about cutting their office allotments to help balance the budget, it is always someone else or agency but not them! Let our legislators show a sign of good faith.


  60. - wizard - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:55 pm:

    cuts for everyone-not just their office allotments, but thier pensions should be the same as other state employees as well as per diem. I will bet they will not touch their incomes, perks, or pensions, even though it is they who have not paid the pension obligations, not the workers.


  61. - Irish - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:57 pm:

    As an IFT member, a state employee not a teacher, I remember getting a letter from IFT just before the last gubnatorial election endorsing ROD. I replied by asking them had they lost their mind., Of course no response. Am I happy that the true culprits of this pension debacle were not called out today and we seem to be following the path that former Govs. have taken? No, But I will remember and will vote against any sitting legislator who was present to put us in this situation and was present to vote this way out. I did not follow AFT in Rod’s re-election and will not pay attention to them now. The GA members have to do something to show me they understand that we are done with their usual way of doing business and they also need to shoulder the pain or they are not worth my vote or anyone else’s.


  62. - PPHS - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 2:59 pm:

    Been there and done that. There is not enough money in the world to get me to teach, again. It is a dangerous job and can easily take 12 hours a day. Pay teachers what they are worth and get more cops in the buildings and maybe better people will teach. It is a number one headache.


  63. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:03 pm:

    Bill–I agree with you on the Filan part. He has not been kind to the Pension fund.


  64. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:07 pm:

    Observation 1: Six Degrees is absolutely right. Especially with the left-center political leanings of most of the regular commenters here. I for one will pony up my $1000 in extra taxes to get out of this mess. Will the IMA, the Chamber of Commerce types, the Bankers, and the schools?

    Observation 2: BigDog clearly knows that what he gets done in 250 days minus major holidays, sick days, personal days, and extra time off (if more than 2 weeks/yr) is more than a schoolteacher in 180 days.

    We’re probably down to a difference of 30-50 days, or 15-20% of total work days. Do you punch a clock? Teachers don’t. Do you have meetings with irate customers at night, meetings on Saturday afternoons, and regular work after hours? Teachers do. Do you deal with a challenging work environment that includes the smart, the dumb, the nice, the mean, the affluent, the poor, management, critics, noseybodies, etc. every day?

    Probably not. If you do, thanks. If you don’t, stop assuming you know what a teacher does.


  65. - beth - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:07 pm:

    This is why teacher’s organizations and unions exist… to advocate for the constituencies they serve. If teachers automatically got the best pay, there would be no reason to have the IFT (same reason all unions exist), but sadly this doesn’t just happen naturally. You don’t HAVE to agree with their tactics, or even their message, unless you’re a dues-paying member. They’re doing just what they should be doing, considering the situation, and if there is/was a similar advocacy model for your job, you’d want them to do the same. Now politicians just have decide whether it’s a voter block that it’s worth infuriating or not, or the donations that come in from their membership are worth losing.


  66. - Collar Observer - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:12 pm:

    Hum……another part of the problem. What a selfish bunch of “leaders” at IFT - WOW -

    thank God there are great members of your rank and file that get it - they need to work on getting rid of you all - that are responsible for this statement.


  67. - Springfield Sceptic - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:13 pm:

    I am a state employee. The extra 2% pension contribution will cost me $1200+ per year. When my wife’s salary is added in with mine the income tax increase will cost me another $1000+ per year. A $2200+ hit in income is not small change. It will hurt…a lot.


  68. - Anon... - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:20 pm:

    Steve - The budget book put out by the governor’s office specified that current employees would pay an extra 2%, while the state takes a 3-year holiday from making payments. Now, whether or not they can legislate existing contracts is up for debate, but to make impose a 1.5% income tax, 2% additional pension contribution, 4 furlough days which amount to roughly 2% in wage cuts, and higher health care costs, some employees will see as much as a 5% pay cut. This is not a ’shared sacrifice’. This is being put on the backs of public employees, and that’s wrong.


  69. - David - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:37 pm:

    I’m from the Quad Cities. In Iowa everything is much higher. Income tax is 9%, pension is higher. Everything is much higher over there. Illinois provides more services and has to pay more. We have pretty low taxes compared to most states. Yet we all complain when a modest increase is needed. If we don’t fix the problem by raising taxes and pensions what will we do. The next option is too cut funding. I don’t want to see a billion dollar decrease in the education funding. So either we raise taxes or cut the budget from public safety and education. Take your pick.


  70. - Boomer - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:37 pm:

    The average salary for teachers in the state (excludes Chicago teachers) was $60,254 for 9 months work. How is this underpaid, when it is over $6,700 per each month worked? Teachers being underpaid may have been true in the past, but it is no longer true! Congratulations to their propaganda machine. By the way, their average pension is $41, 535. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?


  71. - SouthernGirl - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:42 pm:

    With the size of the budget crisis, no more sacred cows. No one is going to escape some sort of axe, fee or tax increase — it is just a reality. In my perfect world interest groups get over posturing and start being part of the solution. My own interest group included.


  72. - Irish - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:43 pm:

    Lefty Lefty - I am not neutral on what Big Dog said but those of us who are front line state employees deal with the public (who also “pay our salaries”) - nuff said.

    Also you find fault with BD for his assumptions then you make the same mistake.

    I don’t know that these discussions show whether one is Red or Blue but they sure show the animosity between state workers and non-state workers, teachers and non-educational workers. We should all understand that we really do not know what other people do in their jobs and we should assume that they are all hardworking dedicated people until we are proven wrong.


  73. - Lt. Guv - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:51 pm:

    While I’m not shocked by the union response, I am a bit saddened by the immediate run to the lowest common denomenator. Evidently we haven’t hit bottom yet.

    I’m the offspring of two Illinois teachers, one who has passed away and the other retired. I have every respect for teachers and agree that many are underpaid. HOWEVER,

    We’re in a situation where everyone must pony up to get us through. For many of us that means a tax increase. Do I like that? Hell no! But is it required to get us out of this mess (regardless of who’s to blame - bottom line is we all shoulder the shared responsibliity). That also means that teachers and other union members have to join the rest of us out here and take a pension hit. Most of the rest of world has seen that and many more will. They will still have a definied benefit, that’s better than many receive now.

    I understand it’s painful, but these are painful times for us all and we must work together. While the Gov’s proposal probably won’t make it through in a recognizable form it’s a reasonable starting point of cuts and revenue. It will take both.


  74. - Lt. Guv - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:53 pm:

    My teacher parents would also be mortified at the spelling errors I see AFTER I press the “Say It!” button.


  75. - Boomer - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 3:54 pm:

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! The ink was not dry on the legislation that capped excessive end of career teacher raises, when the unions started getting exemptions to this law passed by the legislature. They have now passed 72 exemptions which totally guts this law. 20% end of career raises are back! The union strikes again.


  76. - DuPage Moderate - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:09 pm:

    The first legislator that takes these Unions on will get my, and a surprising number of others, 100% support.

    I think we’re finally at the point where a candidate can run and win on an agenda strictly anti-union….at least in the suburbs.


  77. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:10 pm:

    Lefty’s comment:

    “Do you punch a clock? Teachers don’t. Do you have meetings with irate customers at night, meetings on Saturday afternoons, and regular work after hours? Teachers do”

    really shows the problem: Too many teachers are completely out of touch with the rest of us.

    Yes, I often do work 12 hour days, and I do it 12 months of the year. And frankly, I’m a bit tired of teachers acting special because they work long hours a few months a year.

    Join the club, teachers. Things are tough all over. Many employers are cutting back on pensions and insurance. Time for teachers to act like the rest of us.

    I also note that it is so easy to be pro-teacher, until the union pulls this sort of “stuff.” By pushing in this manner, it causes people to push back and at the same time, to lose a bit of respect for teachers generally.


  78. - Ruth - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:14 pm:

    In answer to Why do teachers take the job if they are underpaid? - When they take the job they are willing to be paid less because they count their future pension in the mix. Let’s not lump what some administrators receive as pensions as opposed to regular classroom teachers. And to Boomer…$60,000 is an average salary, not starting salary. Most of these have taken advanced degrees.


  79. - DuPage Moderate - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:15 pm:

    Ruth:

    Most have advanced degrees that were paid for by the taxpayers? And why get these advanced degrees….because they can then get paid more as they go into a different payment bracket.

    It’s such a scam.


  80. - Cosmic Charlie - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:27 pm:

    The IFT did what they should do, protect their members, both present and future. That is their job. That is their purpose. Should they start off this budget process conceding a major point that hurts their members? Of course not. All labor leaders are going to do the same before it is said and done, as they should. Under Quinn’s proposal if you are a state employee who is single, no kids, making $30,000-60,000 you are gonna get crushed. Unpaid furlough days, higher income tax, pay more for your health insurance, defered payments on your pension and a pay freeze. That hurts. I am not a state employee but I certainly do not blame them, or their union reps, for saying this budget proposal sucks from their perspective. And to the elected officials who support it, we won’t support you. Seems fair to me.


  81. - BigDog - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:35 pm:

    Lefty Lefty,

    “Do you punch a clock? Teachers don’t.”

    - No, I don’t either

    “Do you have meetings with irate customers at night, meetings on Saturday afternoons, and regular work after hours? Teachers do.”

    - I have meetings with all types of folks, nice and not nice, during working hours, mainly because that is when all of them are working. I take work home with me evenings and weekends on a regular basis. Occasionally I’ll have to do overnight work due to the nature of the location and regulations concerning access.

    “Do you deal with a challenging work environment that includes the smart, the dumb, the nice, the mean, the affluent, the poor, management, critics, noseybodies, etc. every day?”

    - Yes - maybe not all types on every single day, but generally, yes, I see all types.

    Again, I don’t begrudge them their salaries. I just don’t like the way they portray themselves as a special segment of the population because they can hold our kids over us at times that it politically suits them to do so.

    PS - I don’t have tenure (automatic job security) either.


  82. - 2010 - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:40 pm:

    Get rid of the unions…then we’ll have more money to pay for things!


  83. - doc - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:46 pm:

    You all should keep in mind that when the teacher’s salaries are published, the figures are about 20% higher than what the teacher sees on her W-2. The published figures include all of the money the district pays in relation to the teacher - not just what most people view as salary.


  84. - steve - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:51 pm:

    Although the legislature cannot reduce retirement benefits for existing participants, the State could tomorrow banish the ability of School districts to monkey around with the increases routinely paid to teachers and administrators during the employee’s last years of active service which produces huge increases in the dollars paid to retirees and loads the retirement systems with increased liabilities- why should anyone be entitled to raises of 20 percent a year during their final years of employment solely to drive up their average compensation for benefit calculation purposes. Teachers and administrators game the sysyem for every last penny and leave the consequences up to tax payers- The Governor ought to look at banishing these final year pay increases.


  85. - Bobby - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:51 pm:

    Don’t you get it? Teachers are for the most part hard working, middle class people, doing public service. Why should teachers bear the brunt of saving the state fiscal crisis when they have been doing so for years whenever the legislature decided not to fund their pensions?

    Yes, tax pensions over a certain amount, like 75000 or 100000 to catch the fat cats and administrators, and raise taxes for everyone — including the teachers — with an increase in the personal exemption. Don’t punish the teachers 3 times — higher taxes, lower pensions, and having to pay more for the lower pensions.

    Shared sacrifice is one thing. Picking on public servants is something else.


  86. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:55 pm:

    Bill, you are spot on, man.

    The ghost of Filan is hovering over this budget like stale flatulence in a chili parlor.

    Boomer, you are flat out wrong on 72 exemptions to the 20 percent salary cap and the return of 20 percent bumps. Not even close.

    For all you know it alls who think teachers are overpaid, AA offers two simple suggestions:

    1) Homeschool your little darlings for awhile and see how you do.

    2) Go get a substitute teaching certificate and get a taste of what IFT and IEA members deal with every day.

    Perhaps then you may have some appreciation for the strong pushback from the IEA, IFT, and TRS to this egregious and unconstitional pension raid.


  87. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 4:56 pm:

    Irish: I agree wholeheartedly. My poorly-made point was that jobs are complicated, and making sweeping assumptions about attitude, workload and compensation. (I made none about BigDog’s. He and Skeeter don’t need to answer the questions. They were rhetorical, I think is the word.)

    Skeeter: Not one of the 100 or so teachers I know personally resemble what you describe. They enjoy their work, they hate the crap they put up with, and they do their jobs well. They are a lot more like us than you apparently think.

    BigDog: If you have a problem with the teachers’ annual workload, then you have a problem with their compensation. And tenure is not automatic job security, if the 2 firings I saw are any indication, and contract employees are not at-will employees.


  88. - phocion - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:00 pm:

    Not a smart knee-jerk reaction by the teachers union. This is the sort of thing that will cause enough public indignation against the teachers to give legislators the cover they need to do the needful pension reform. And these dummies are teaching our kids?


  89. - SIUPROF - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:00 pm:

    From my perspective-A university professor for 28 years, I am happy to see education get an increase. I am not happy about the 2% pension increase, but I am willing to do it and to pay an additional 1.5% tax to help insure that our young people continue to have access to higher education. It bothers me when so many people think only of their wallets-remember when you went to school someone was footing the bill. and if it was more than 10 years ago and you went to a public university, the state paid about 2/3 of your cost-Today the share picked up by the state is less than 1/2. All of us are better of if the general educational level of the citizenry is higher. We all have to chip in to build toward that goal.


  90. - seriously - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:16 pm:

    wow…lets all just flush the state down the toilet, nobody will give up anything.


  91. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:19 pm:

    seriously -

    You hit the nail right on the head!


  92. - Doug Dobmeyer - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:24 pm:

    the union is so behind the times - do they bother reading the papers? Doug Dobmeyer


  93. - HoBoSkillet - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:25 pm:

    I also agree with seriously. This special interest circular firing squad solves nothing and just perpetuates ignorance and ill will.


  94. - The Old Bobby - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:27 pm:

    I’m with you, Bill!


  95. - Concerned Voter - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 5:27 pm:

    I’m also a state employee, not a teacher. I like the idea of a new pension system for new hires. I can go along with the income tax hike to an extent. But to make us contribute more to our pensions, only if they guarantee that they will pay up what they owe to the funds already.

    Also on the furlough days, remember the last furlough day state employees took? Depending on the union, some got that money/time back, some never did.


  96. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 6:18 pm:

    So, I’d like to know how the teachers’ unions justify the current final salary pension scheme in which administrators and teachers get massive pay raises shortly before retirement in order to game the system — a process at its most egregious when you see superintendents retiring in their 50s on pensions of well over $200,000 a year.


  97. - Pension Guy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 6:58 pm:

    I think the pension cuts are understandable given our current economic state of affairs. Also, the impact to current state employees will be minimal.

    All the pension cuts in the form of changes to the benefit formula/vesting schedule are geared to new hires. So, teachers (and any state employees) who are currently participating in a public retirement system will not see a reduction in their benefits due to constitutional guarantees. So, it’s a raw deal for the new guys, and might negatively impact the prospect of attracting good talent. However, I doubt that because people are desperate for job security nowadays, and government jobs are in high demand because they provide that.

    The 2% increase in the contribution rate for current participants of public retirement systems is good for some, bad for some. Bad for those who need every penny to live on and those whose benefits are calculated only according to a service credit-based formula. The increased contributions is a pure cost increase to those participants.

    However, the increased contribution rate is good for those who want to increase their tax-deferred savings in plans that provide a money purchase benefit, where your benefit is tied to how much money is in your hypothetical “account” and interest accrued thereon. For participants in those plans, their benefit will actually increase over the long term due to increased contribution rates. Furthermore, since most of the plans have a refund feature where you can get your contributions plus interest out as a lump-sum after termination, those who want to leave state employment and take their money with them (usually to be rolled over to an IRA) might benefit in the long run, as well.


  98. - Gregor - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:02 pm:

    The problem with ultimatums is, some day, somebody’s going to call you on one…


  99. - SpfldJimbo - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:03 pm:

    They need to throw their support to student literacy.


  100. - Shore - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:16 pm:

    The best gig in the state is high school gym teachers on the north shore making mid $100’s for coaching sports. And most of the teams stink.


  101. - Justice - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:28 pm:

    Had to work late but….Wow…the ITF must actually think their endorsement really means that much. I don’t recall any election where their weight counted as the deciding factor. Nice ego though. I for one would like to see the unions go.


  102. - Retired ISP - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:42 pm:

    Angry Chicagoan

    You are so wrong , they did away with that 20-20-10 thing about 3 years ago , get your facts straight, and some have the old wage complaint thing way off, my wife has taught for 34 years and next year will retire at $54,000 and has a Masters Degree , it takes time and money to get that.


  103. - Cut It - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:43 pm:

    Wow. I don’t know about everyone else, but my family well be doing our fair share.

    Two state workers making $40k each and and two kids.

    $175 increase in income tax
    $1,600 increase in pension contribution
    $1,200 in furlough costs
    $unknown in increase health insurance

    Like I have $3,000-$4,000 dollars to spare this year. But hey, state workers deserve this right? We are milking the system.


  104. - Chicago Dem - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 7:59 pm:

    The IFT leadership should spend five minutes LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD! What a bunch of irresponsible, out of touch, special interest yahoos!


  105. - countryboy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 8:02 pm:

    Pension spiking - it takes two to tango. The unions and the school boards cooperated on that hustle - boards offering the bennie and sending the bulk of the bill elsewhere. Also seems to me it started with the admin, and wasn’t limited to 20% early on.


  106. - Smitty Irving - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 8:30 pm:

    Ah, how fast we forget recent history. Filan pushed through a proposal capping increases in the last few years of a teacher’s career - and in the process denying there had been an implicit bargain to allow such end of career increases in exchange for teachers not pushing too hard for a tax swap / increase. IFT was already mad about that, and then this happens.

    If IFT wants to be effective, they will apply this “no support” technique to people who refuse to vote for bills in committee, particularly Rules. And chairmen who refuse to call bills. That would be more effective.


  107. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 8:43 pm:

    Wow. That’s a puzzling level of candor and transparency. Makes me wonder whether making such a bold announcement or taking the action without such an announcement will work better for them.


  108. - Missy - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 8:48 pm:

    - Chicago Dem - Amen! And that is something I thought I’d never say to a Chicago Dem! But IFT has done one thing today, and that is put many people on both side of the aisle on the same page. They need a serious reality check!


  109. - JohnR - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 9:22 pm:

    “Cut It” - you were just on here the other day talking about how the State could cut its way to $11.5 billion instead of raising the income tax.

    So either you are lying about being a State employee. Or you should be happy that Quinn didn’t go all out and say he was going to just do cuts.

    Because if he had, it would be you and your wife, former state employees, with $0 in income. You wouldn’t even had the opportunity to collect unemployment because a part of your self-righteous cuts was the elimination of the Department of Employment Security (and its entire budget for unemployment payouts).


  110. - Somewhere to start - Wednesday, Mar 18, 09 @ 9:27 pm:

    Maybe the state should look into this area to generate more revenue:

    http://il.aft.org/044080/index.cfm?action=article&articleID=17f38681-ef52-45a2-8fcc-93e8d4a96670


  111. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 3:07 am:

    According to the most recent statewide report card, the average public school teacher in Illinois has more than 12 years experience, and more than half have Masters degrees. Yet the average salary is $60,871 a year.

    If THAT is grossly overpaid, then someone please explain to me why both Illinois and school districts in every state face massive shortages of teachers, especially in the subjects of math, science, computer sciences, and special education?

    You wanna complain that they only work nine months out of the year? Fine. Institute year-round class schedules. But be prepared to increase those salaries by 33%.

    I find it outrageous that some jerkwad at AIG is making $6 million bonuses with only a bachelors degree in finance, or maybe an MBA.

    I find it outrageous that the average neurosurgeon in Chicago makes around $1 million a year.

    I find it inexplicable that the average telemarketing shift supervisor makes nearly $50K a year in this country.

    But according to salary.com, the average school teacher in Illinois is making about the same salary as the average sales account executive in Springfield, and two thirds of those salesmen only have bachelor’s degrees.


  112. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 7:39 am:

    Retired ISP — 20-20-10 went out the door for superintendents too?

    I think it should also be pointed out that the schoolteacher average salary is actually favorable compared to many college instructors who are at the same level despite having a PhD.

    There’s a broad problem with pay in the public sector, as in it’s generally on the low side and it’s generally not performance-related and it’s generally not related very well to education level either.

    But when you have $400,000 superintendents running around, or worse yet roosting in an entropic state in their offices, it makes it more difficult to sell the tax increase this state has long needed in order to break out of the loop it’s currently in of trying to meet voter desire for Wisconsin-level services on an Arkansas budget.


  113. - dupage progressive - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 8:11 am:

    To the folks who say the IFT endorsement is no big deal, you’ve obviously never worked on a close state-level race. It’s a HUGE deal. They give big $$, and provide lots of bodies to help in the campaign office, make phone calls & walk door-to-door.

    I do think this is over the top — even from me, someone who appreciates what unions do to stand up for average working men & women.

    It just seems 100% selfish to listen to a speech (or read it beforehand) and hear that everyone else is deaing with cuts, but they just won’t.
    And what did I miss anyway, I thought I heard Quinn say that there would be no cuts in education — that there would be cuts everywhere else, but not education.
    So, what gives IFT & IEA??


  114. - anon - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 9:39 am:

    If there is such a budget defficite, why is the Illinois State Police spending $800,000 to move the State Troopers and Dispatch center off the interstate to the center of Springfield to the old Franklin Life Building. What a waste of money! If you need assistance on the highway, expect a delay. Who thinks of these things? Shouldn’t money being wasted on this move go back inot the budget to help balance it and prevent furlow days for state employees.


  115. - Boomer - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 9:43 am:

    Doc - You are totally wrong! The $60, 254 average teachers salary last year IS their w2 wages! It includes nothing that they do not see on their paychecks.

    Next: Why do so many teachers have masters degrees? They were not asked to do this by their school districts. The union has established that getting a masters degree gets you an automatic higher salary, whether it is necessary or not. Another example of the teachers unions costing the taxpayers money for nothing..

    All of these teachers’ organizations do not care what happens to the rest of the state as long as they get more money. And where does most of this money go? Higher teachers’ salaries. Compare their current pay to what they received only 10 years ago. Would you believe it has increased by 75%?


  116. - Steve Downstate - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 10:16 am:

    Boomer, you belittle the desiere of teachers to take classes beyond the bachelor’s level (and earn advanced degrees). If I understand you correctly, you don’t give a darn about teachers continuing to learn and develop in their fields. What they learned ten or twenty years ago should suffice, huh? I’m glad my child’s teacher continues to expand her knowledge of subject matter and effective pedagogy. (And why shouldn’t advanced learning be rewarded in the form of salary? Do you pay an engineer with two master’s degrees the same you’d pay someone with a bachelor’s?)


  117. - Boomer - Thursday, Mar 19, 09 @ 2:49 pm:

    Steve: If the job duties, require an engineer to get a master’s degree, I would: (1) Suggest he get an advanced degree, (2) Pay his tuition, and (3) Give him a big raise upon graduation. However, if the job he is performing can be handled with a bachelor’s degree, then I don’t do any of these things. His attainment of a master’s degree is not necessary for my job, so i don’t pay more. If he leaves, I just hire another engineer with a bachelor’s degree and my job requirements are satisfied, The exact same thing should be true for teachers. You don’t need a master’s degree to teach kindergarten, so why should you have to pay more when she goes off and gets one on her own? Union garbage!


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        * Showing weakness is a bad move
        * McAllister recieves FFA award
        * Grants awarded to child service agencies
        * Student creates fighter plane
        * Marion to hold Dr. King program
        * College programs open for testing
        * SIC reinstates concert band
        * Church to hold fundraiser
        * Hikes to highlight forestry aspects
        * JoBerta Doering


        * 6th man set to plead guilty in MLB steroid case
        * Parity abounds among women's hoops elite
        * AP Top Sports News At 3 a.m. EST
        * Best of the season's 39 bowl games
        * Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

        * Illinois Rep. Mike Bost flips his lid over...
        * Rep. Mike Bost
        * Kilquest and Bryant to Face Off for 115th ...
        * Meet Mike Bost, a Must-Watch Freshman Cong...
        * Video Of GOP Lawmaker's Meltdown Resurface...
        * 8 things new members of Congress definitel...
        * Lawmakers Give Advice to New Members of Co...
        * Bost in DC, Enyart postpones return
        * Obama: 'I've got to take responsibility" f...
        * Lipinski: Will change lead to commonsense ...

        * Durbin on Cuba Relations...
        * Not much chance of Congress stopping Cuba ......

        * GOP senator wants 'The Interview' shown at......
        * Sen. Kirk suggests raising money with scre......

        * City Clerk Debuts Online Residential Permit Parking Map
        * Expert Writing Service for Students’ Deductive Writing
        * Will Jan. 8 mean anything?
        * Remember "Night After Night"
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown
        * Party With The Pups At Driftwood
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown (Updated)
        * Kinzinger bullish on America and Illinois
        * Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk Promises to Screen 'The Interview' at Fundraisers
        * Quinn calls for special session to push special 2016 comptroller election


        * Governor Quinn Calls Legislative Special Session - Governor Urges Legislature to Set Up 2016 Special Election for Comptroller
        * Governor Quinn Announces Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Hits New Low - Illinois’ Economic Comeback Continues; Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level in More than Six Years
        * Illinois Ranks #1 in Volunteer Rate Among the Country’s 8 Largest States - 2.57 Million Illinoisans Give $7.2 Billion in Service
        * Law Enforcement, IDOT Make Final Push to Save Lives in 2014, Roadside Safety Checks Planned Over Holidays - New Episode of “The Driving Dead” Premieres Friday as Holiday Travelers are Reminded to Drive Sober and Buckle Up
        * Department of Insurance Announces Two Convictions Resulting from its Workers’ Compensation Fraud Investigations - Former Crystal Lake Police Officer and Former Business Owner Convicted




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