* For a while, yesterday’s pension reform debate in the Senate Executive Committee focused on the state’s past failure to make pension payments. But one Senator objected to the claims by unions that this is all the General Assembly’s fault…
Teachers unions have protested cuts to their benefits, saying it was lawmakers’ actions, skipping payments into pension funds, that created the debt.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno shot back during a hearing, presenting old paperwork from 2005 showing that both the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers supported skipping the payment then.
“There’s plenty of culpability to go around,” the Lemont Republican said.
* I asked the Senate Republicans for the list of proponents and opponents of the bill which allowed the state to skip pension payments. Here it is…
SB 27 Proponnents:
Rich Frankenfeld, IEA “testimony if necessary”
Derek Blaida, CPS
Steve Preckwinkle, IFT “testimony if necessary”
Laura Arterburn, IFT
Michael McGann SEIU
Kurt Anderson SEIU
Randy Witter, Retired State Employees Association
Martin Noven, Treasurer’s office (Topinka)
Topinka was furious about the pension payment holidays back then and, as it turns out, she was right.
*** UPDATE *** From the Illinois Federation of Teachers…
SB 27 originally contained other pension language including changes to the Early Retirement Option and end of career salary increases that reduced the state’s cost for pensions by over $80 billion. In addition to supporting these pension reforms, the unions also supported increased gaming revenues, a higher cigarette tax, or the issuance of Pension Obligation Bonds to cover pension costs. The leadership refused to consider these options and chose to add the pension holiday at the last minute. We never supported that provision of the bill.