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Shifting on the cost shift

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012

* April 24th, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that while he wants to make local schools and community colleges responsible for the cost of teachers’ retirements, it isn’t an “essential” part of his immediate plans to cut spending for the state’s troubled pensions systems.

In a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board, the Democratic governor said he’d like the General Assembly to take up the controversial proposal to shift the state’s share of pension costs to local schools before lawmakers are scheduled to leave Springfield May 31.

But, Quinn said, he’ll focus more in the coming weeks on getting legislators to approve his proposal, announced last week, to have teachers pay more toward their pensions and to raise the retirement age to 67. […]

“We want to deal with that accountability principle, but we’ll do it on a separate track,” Quinn said.

* April 25th, 2012

Two of Gov. Pat Quinn’s top media spokespersons, Kelly Kraft and Brooke Anderson, just called to try and clarify the governor’s position on the proposal to shift employer pension costs to schools and universities. […]

But to characterize his comments as backing away from the proposal is “not his position at all,” the spokespeople said.

“In no way shape or form do we want it to get out there that he’s backed away,” I was told. “Nobody here has been talking about that, including the governor.”

“This is something the governor supports. He thinks it should be part of the legislation.”

* November 14th, 2012, Quinn was asked whether the cost-shift was still a major component of his pension reform plan…

“I don’t think we should let one particular segment of a reform bill hold up progress. So, uh, what we want to do is negotiate and figure out a good plan that saves taxpayers money and still maintains and rescues the pension system.”

* November 16th, 2012

“It’s not confusing. I favor that (the cost shift),” Quinn said Friday at a separate news conference. “I think it should be done that everybody who is involved in government when they negotiate a contract should have a stake in having to pay for the pensions that are part of the contract.”

* November 18th, 2012

Still, as he took questions from reporters, Quinn stopped short of his previous demand that any comprehensive pension plan should gradually shift the cost of pensions for teachers outside Chicago from the state onto local school districts — and local property taxpayers. Suburban Republicans and Democrats have adamantly opposed the cost shift.


REPORTER: Does it include the suburban, Downstate teacher pensions being transferred over to those schools?

QUINN: There’s a number of parts to the pension reform that I laid out that can really deal with this issue that can reduce and eliminate the liability. One of those is a principle of accountability for all of those who are involved in employing public workers. And I’m anxious to continue that discussion and I think, uh, we need to have that with our members of the Legislature. But I think really part of that discussion has to involve the people who pay the taxes, who are citizens of Illinois who are concerned about their kids’ future and their grandkids’ future.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    Well, that’s clear.

  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Nooooooooow we understand

  3. - cassandra - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:07 pm:

    Does it matter what he thinks. After the new legislature is seated, he’ll have no veto power, right? And as to the bully pulpit–with all the waffling, he doesn’t really have one. That may be the way he likes it, given his upcoming gubernatorial campaign. A ceremonial governor who stays above the fray with vaguely conflicting pronouncements might be the right campaign approach. Are the other Dems going to let him get away with it?

  4. - Njardar - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    Governor Quinn responds to questions posed by Rich Miller on pension reform…

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:16 pm:

    I comes in as clear as a bell,I finally feel informed. Thank you Gov..

  6. - nickypiii - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    Is it 2014 yet?

  7. - Hank - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:30 pm:

    Methinks ole Squeezy has been wrapped around PQ’s brain too long…ease up squeezy

  8. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:34 pm:

    Tune in tomorrow for a further clarification from whoever is “speaking” at that time, with a new clarification available on Black Friday, right after the Gov picks up one of those newfangled Belgian waffle makers ( “You know the type that you fill, flip over, and the magically cook themselves? I would love for every child growing up it this great state to have one of these in their homes to insure that they can succeed in life, but the pension squeeze will make that impossible unless we blah blah blah”) at half price…

  9. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    You left out May 31 when the Gov sided with Cross and backed off the “cost shift” in the House proposal and thereby killed comprehensive pension reform, only to then demand a special session on what he’d just backed off.

    Perhaps someone should administer one of those NFL concussion tests to the guy.

  10. - Fight for Urbana - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    And what is the Governor’s stance on Rutgers and Maryland becoming part of the Big 10?

  11. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    About as clear as the Amendment proposal!

    Raising the retirement age to 67 would actually raise the pension liability, as it would increase the amount that the employee/teacher would get, but I guess the thought is that the pensioner would not live as many years after retirement.

  12. - anon - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    two other cartoon characters come to mind…

    Mumbles - from Dick Tracy, and

    Miss Offmore - the Teacher from the Peanuts! Wahh wahwah wahh!

  13. - Joe Bidenopoulous - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    Mmmmmm, Squeezy hungry!

  14. - Been There - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 12:52 pm:

    The legislators that get the most done are the ones that know how to negotiate. I mean negotiate like they are playing poker. Don’t show your cards until the right time, being able to bluff and have other players believe you, pay attention to the cues others are giving, etc. Also helps if you have money in your pocket to back your future bets.
    Quinn is the worst poker player ever. He constantly shows his cards but doesn’t have the backing to go all in. Then his bluffs gets called and nobody ever again believes him.
    Probably a bad analogy but it is obvious that there is no thought-out long range strategy being put together by him and his cabinet.
    Eventually everyone else at the table just won’t take him seriously, and unless he gets lucky and draws 4 aces, he will keep on losing.

  15. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    Yea, this pension deal is Quinn’s fault. Mike Madigan created this problem through the tenure of more than half a dozen governors.

    Make fun of the governor all you want, he is an easy target. The reality is the Speaker lacks the intellectual capacity or the intestinal fortitude to fix the pension problem he created. That is an undebatable fact proven by decades of history.

    It is real simple. Local districts have X dollars and most are tax capped. After one or two contract negotiations they will just take the money back from the teachers. Any cost shift to disctricts is a major pay cut for teachers.

    Reality check. This problem is not going away until Mike Madigan is gone. Any idea that does not involve his retirement, is just a game of kick the can.

  16. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    The Quinn Administration has 783 days left.

  17. - Yahoooz - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    Many times the school district that I reside in was always a big supporter of the various early retirement offers given to the teachers even, if I remember correctly, offering to help with the buyout costs that the individual teachers would be required to buy their extra time.
    The explanation was always given that new teachers would be cheaper to hire while the state would pick up the pension costs. Like so many kick the can down the road solutions it appears that perhaps we are at the end of that road and in this district will suffer the consequences.
    It was a win for the proponents though. They are now out of office.

  18. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    He was put on this Earth to solve the pension crisis, but can’t do that until he’s won another term. After all, you cannot fix the state budget without Pat Quinn. He’s the Governor!

  19. - downstate hack - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:21 pm:

    Why doesn’t the Governor prepare a comprehensive plan in bill form for introduction as legislation? It would at least be a starting point for concrete discussion and negotiation. It doesn’t appear that legislative leaders are capable of doing this.

  20. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:35 pm:

    Patriot, anyone who believes “the Speaker lacks the intellectual capacity or the intestinal fortitude” to address the pension problem hasn’t been watching the same state government that I have been watching.

  21. - quincy - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:38 pm:

    Raising Retirement to 67. That means a state employee would have to work 42 yrs to get 70% of their wages at the 1.67%. That means they will have to start at age 25. mite be good but leave us retires as is.

  22. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    You can complain about Quinn and the pension all you want, but he inherited the issue. Most of the people who have to solve this problem came in at the tail end of the process. How many members of the current GA, state agencies, and local school boards were there when are these agreements were first ratified and pensions were skipped? The number are probably pretty low. It is easy to take shots at all of them because they hold the seats. The fact that none of them have come up with any workable solution does not help. Regardless how it comes out, the tax payers will see a net tax increase process locally or state wide. The don’t cut programs and don’t increase taxes option simply does not solve the problem. Cost shifting simply slices more dollars (tax, user fees, call it whatever you want) out of everyone’s wallet regardless of where it eventually goes.

  23. - Steve Downstate - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Heaven forbid that a K-12 teacher (or an instructor at a community college) should move from one district to another over the course of a thirty or forty year career. Quinn’s proposal means that a teacher would end up having to keep track of, and perhaps “self manage,” investments made through four or five different retirement plans in four or five districts.

    How about a better solution…such as the legislature not using teachers’ pension contributions (already paid by those employees, paycheck by paycheck) for other, non-pension purposes? I realize that a lockbox policy would not alleviate the huge hole the legislature has dug over the decades, but it’s not a bad step, either.

  24. - Norseman - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 2:14 pm:

    Z, I believe this post isn’t about attaching blame for the crisis, it’s about the fact that Quinn can’t stick to a position for more than a few days.

  25. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 2:35 pm:

    Wait a week, he’ll change his “mind” again.
    Move along, nothing to see here. Let’s get back to Squeezygate.

  26. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 2:37 pm:

    Its just a game of 3 card monte with the pols and public workers conspiring to get more money from the taxpayers.

    Keep your eye on the lady……

  27. - Jerome Horwitz - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 2:53 pm:

    He was for it before he was against it. And now, he is ….?

  28. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 3:23 pm:


    So you assertion is the speaker is smart enough to fix the problem, he has the guts to fix th problem, he has just chosen not to? Care to explain why?

    I guess maybe he is just lazy. But you can’t have a person who has the power, intelect, and guts to solve the problem the just not solve it for some unknown reason. Madigan is the benefactor of a morbidly incompetent republican party. Not one of the republicans has the guts to stand on the steps of the capitol in January and challenge him to either fix the problem this session or concede he lack the intellegence or will to do it. He has all the power and there is nothing to stop him other than a lack of intelligence or will. Of course this has been the case for years, but now it is more than just a reality of power, it is a reality of the supermajority.

  29. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 3:42 pm:

    Okay, fess up…who talked to him last?

  30. - OneMan - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 3:46 pm:

    ==Okay, fess up…who talked to him last?==

    Squeezy…. duh

  31. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 4:13 pm:

    The problem with Quinn isn’t a willingness to solve the pension problem, but rather the way he has gone about it - declaring he was sent by God, starting cartoon characters, threatening special sessions, changing his mind on specifics, blaming others, etc. - he simply hasn’t led well.

    And by not leading well, he has allowed the legislature and the media to scapegoat him, rather than legislators, for a failure to pass pension reform.

  32. - Rod - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 4:33 pm:

    Now enter Mayor Emanuel to really confuse things. The one school district that supposedly is picking up the tab for its teachers pensions, the Chicago Public Schools, is desperately looking for another break from that responsibility. The legislature granted CPS a pension payment holiday for FY2011‐ 2013 fixing the costs at approximately $195.

    According to the CPS FY 13 budget it will have to give the Chicago Pension fund in FY2014, an estimated $338 million increase in employer contribution, as the contribution returns to the actuarially established contribution of $534 million. CPS will face increasing contributions so by 2018 CPS will have to contribute over $600 million a year to the pension fund. CPS is in no shape to afford this so it will be looking for a legislative fix. Enter Rahm with hat in hand asking for money or a payment break.

    So what is the Governor to do, for that matter the Speaker also, make suburban districts pay up and give CPS a break or screw them all?

  33. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 4:45 pm:

    @Patriot: “intestinal fortitude and intellectual capacity” abound with this Speaker, as anyone who knows him can attest. Way above the norm on those attributes — equal to or higher than any major corporate CEO or military leader I have personally known.

    Perhaps your analysis of how and why things do or do not get done in Springfield is missing a few elements?

  34. - Bill - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 4:51 pm:

    Seriously, does anyone have the copyright on a stuffed Squeezy. I could have sold 50 of them around here today.

  35. - Ruby - Tuesday, Nov 20, 12 @ 5:37 pm:

    Nov. 14, 2012 “…what we want to do is negotiate and figure out a good plan that saves taxpayers money and still maintains and rescues the pension system.”

    Wasn’t the pension funding problem caused by government officials who wanted to save taxpayers’ money by taking pension holidays and using the money to pay for government programs?

  36. - JohnBoy - Wednesday, Nov 21, 12 @ 9:27 am:

    It is appropriate for local school districts to handle pensions. It is not necessarily about more teachers,but critical performance indicators identifying student competence and incorporating technology into classrooms. Let’s concentrate on math, english and science. Let students have more control in developing classromm curriculums geared to their particular skills and interests.

  37. - Lay Person - Wednesday, Nov 21, 12 @ 9:28 am:

    I agreed with JohnBoy!!!!!!!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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