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An objection

Thursday, Feb 7, 2013

* I think this was a pretty universal take on the governor’s State of the State address

For 38 minutes, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke enthusiastically, even lovingly of “our Illinois” without answering any questions about how the state will deal with its $130 billion pension debt, $9 billion in unpaid bills, or hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts that are certain to come this spring.

Quinn hammered home the theme of “This is our Illinois” throughout his State of the State speech Wednesday.

Many lawmakers, state officials and policy makers were unimpressed.

And

Lawmakers from both parties said Wednesday they were disappointed that Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t go further in his State of the State speech to outline how he will accomplish the elusive goal of pension reform. […]

“What he said on pension reform is no different than what he has said a thousand times,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, the third ranking Democrat in the House. “We need to do pension reform, but just saying it doesn’t get it done.”

And

Illinois has an unfunded pension liability approaching $100 billion. Its bond rating is ever-sinking, and it has billions in unpaid bills. But you’d hardly know we live in “Deadbeat Illinois” from listening to Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of The State speech.

And

Quinn made only scattered references to the state’s most pressing problem — a stifling public-employee pension deficit, but the squeeze it puts on other government spending was an undercurrent throughout the governor’s fifth State of the State address.

And

Some are criticizing the Governor for spending too much time touting his achievements of the last four years.

In his 37 minute speech, Governor Quinn allocated only a few minutes to the under-funded pension system problem.

And

“I am disappointed because I don’t feel like what he talked about is going to change the direction of Illinois,” said Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute. “He didn’t talk about what really mattered, which is in-depth pension reform, and how to increase prosperity in Illinois to make us a more competitive state.”

* I disagree that he didn’t “answer any questions” about the pension debt. Quinn came out forcefully for SB1, Senate President John Cullerton’s hybrid pension reform bill. You may not like it, others may not like it, either. But that’s definitely one solution. And, unlike his past vague pronouncements, this is an actual bill with real live language that can be debated, amended and reconstructed as necessary. That’s a specific, which has been lacking in the past.

And his support of SB1 was different than what he’s said “a thousand times” before. Plus, this is a speech, not action. So, yeah, saying it doesn’t get it done, but was he supposed to call for a vote right then and there while he was at the podium?

And as far as the budget goes, the budget address is in March.

Quinn spent most of his last State of the State address talking about pensions. It didn’t move the ball forward. Everybody knows that pension reform is a huge issue. He proposed a workable, specific legislative solution yesterday.

* State of the Union and State of the State addresses usually include references to what has been done. Mark Brown compiled a list

Although often derided for his ability to get things done in Springfield, the fact is that a lot of important and difficult legislation has been approved by the General Assembly and signed into law under Quinn, much of it with mixed popularity. […]

◆ Created and funded a long-sought public works program, Illinois Jobs Now, for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure.

◆ Overhauled the state’s Medicaid program to keep it from going broke.

◆ Changed the workers compensation program to save businesses millions of dollars in insurance premiums.

◆ Legalized civil unions for gays and lesbians.

◆ Established temporary driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

◆ Approved a bipartisan education-reform package with benchmarks for teacher evaluations.

◆ Ethics reforms including establishing voter recall for Illinois governors, limits on campaign contributions and elimination of the scandal-plagued legislative scholarship program.

◆ Reduced pension benefits for new state employees.

◆ Closed 54 state facilities to save money over opposition from unions and local politicians of both parties.

I’m not saying Quinn was the moving force behind each of these measures, but all of it would have been hard to do without him.

* These sorts of addresses also usually provide an outline for where the president or governor wants to go. And Quinn did that as well with a whole lot of proposals that we’ll get to today.

But, as far as I’m concerned, he said what he had to say on pensions. Now comes the hard part.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


59 Comments
  1. - Omay - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Thanks to our past governors and GA members, we have become the 51st state. 50 in this ranking and 1st in another. Neither being where we need to be.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    –◆ Closed 54 state facilities to save money over opposition from unions and local politicians of both parties.–

    Didn’t realize it was that many. That’s a lot. I’m sure it contributes to the antipathy many in the GA have for him.


  3. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:05 am:

    I understand the spin that comes after these speeches. It’s all part of the process. But, as Rich says, these speeches are meant to outline broad themes, as well as to pat yourself on the back. You say all the good things you’ve done and then give a 40,000 foot overview of where you want to go. The end.


  4. - one of the 35 - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    Flash to Lou Lang and other members of the GA. This is not all on the Governor. You GA members need to address the problem even if the Governor won’t. Why are you not doing your jobs?


  5. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Just hope Quinn has a plan ‘C’ to keep the State afloat during the year or two it will take to sort SB0001 out in the courts.


  6. - Exhausted - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    To Rick Miller: This may not be the proper forum to place this comment but I want to congratulate you on your thoughts on Illinos in Cap Fax this morning. Your very eloquent description of the diversity of Illinois was excellent. This in my opinion is one of the best laid out thoughts on a very, very complex issue….Thanks!


  7. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    - Didn’t realize it was that many. That’s a lot. -

    Meanwhile plenty of those lawmakers continue to assert there haven’t been any significant cuts, all the while wailing about the devastation caused by the closures.

    People need to stop whining and get in the game, rip the pension band-aid off so we can move forward to rebuild our state without relying on public institutions as a jobs plan.

    I appreciate this post; say what you want about PQ’s governing style, he’s proven he’s not afraid to stand up to both sides of the aisle as well as some former allies, all the while doing his best to invest in real progress for the entire state.


  8. - siriusly - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    I agree Rich. I never have any expectations that the state of the state is anything but fluff. His very strong endorsement of SB1 surprised me. Now let’s see if he and Cullerton can pass the thing. . .

    Yes he’s unpopular and its easy to bash the guy, but really this speech really wasn’t that bad.


  9. - Old Shepherd - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:18 am:

    Wouldn’t it make sense to combine the State of the State address and the budget address into one speech? It seems as though many people want the State of the State address to address budget issues, even though he will give another address in a few weeks devoted entirely to that subject. Let’s just combine the two into one speech and be done with it.


  10. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    Shepherd, they have combined the two several times in recent years.


  11. - Ret. Prof - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:23 am:

    Life is tough when you can’t skip pension payments to pay for progressive Illinois….


  12. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    I didn’t watch it, but read the transcript.

    It wasn’t a speech that made me think of the next campaign, but I’m sure it disappointed all who are already thinking about the next campaign.

    Anything said by a leader will generate criticism from opponents, but this speech was absent of rhetoric.

    It was non-confrontational — unless maybe your social service agency was closed, you feel you’re getting robbed of pension benefits, you oppose gay marriage and/or limits on automatic weapons, and you want to put the nix on attempts to expand health care benefits.


  13. - Out Here In The Middle - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    “What he said on pension reform is no different than what he has said a thousand times,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, the third ranking Democrat in the House. “We need [someone] to do pension reform [for us], [because the 177 of us can’t decide anything].


  14. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    Is there a requirement for an address on these things or can the Governor just issue a report to the GA (just like at the Federal level)? If anyone thinks that the average citizen will spend an hour listening to this drivel, I would say that is highly unlikely. The only reason for these addresses I can see (other than the Constitutionally mandated requirement that the Executive report the State-of-the-State) is to feed the ego of the person giving it. Otherwise they are a huge waste.


  15. - the Patriot - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    What does it matter? He faces a veto proof majority in both houses. He has as much say as Mike Bost…none. This is Mike Madigan’s baby now, The hammer better drop the velvet gloves and find a magic wand because after 30 years of grabbing power he has it all. Which means if he can’t fix the problem that was created on his watch, there is no one else left to blame.


  16. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    It was the State of the State speech, not the budget address. I thought it was a good document, well-delivered. PQ is growing into the job, as most Governors do.

    His lack of detail on the pension and other fiscal matters would have been disappointing IF it had been the budget address.

    Word, I think most of those “facilities” were local offices of Employment Security, DHS, etc.


  17. - jake - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    What he totally missed the chance to say was that he supports introduction of a graduated personal income tax. The arithmetic on that is very clear. Without shifting some of the tax burden from the lower incomes, which don’t have the money, to the higher incomes, which do have the money, there is no chance to get out from under our financial disaster without either decimating programs, or going bankrupt and starting over, or both.


  18. - langhorne - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    i would like to see an analysis of the maternity/paternity of browns list of 9 accomplishments. was quinn the originator, significantly helpful in their passage, or merely complicit?


  19. - cassandra - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    There was also the income tax increase, which he campaigned on (part of it). Whatever your viewpoint on state taxes and the way they are spent in Illinois, this was a risky political move and he, more than legislators, is the face of the increase. It could still hurt him.

    Also, the decision to start paying the full annual pension debt. It would have been easier to keep skipping the payments one way or other, and this being Illinois, the unions and the legislators might well have let him get away with it. Both benefited greatly (in union raises and cash for legislative “programs”) from pension-payment skipping.


  20. - the Patriot - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    ==Without shifting some of the tax burden from the lower incomes, which don’t have the money, to the higher incomes, which do have the money==

    Ain’t nobody getting a tax cut. You can’t tax our way out of this because the tax increase narrows the base because few jobs are created. Take an economics class please. Socialism works for a few years and IL is a decade away from being another footnote in the economics books proving Socialism is not sustainable.

    What angers me most about the entire situation is the republican response. If you think he is out of line and pandering, find someone to beat him. Reality check. If Lisa Madigan does not run, Quinn will be re-elected.


  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    Well, Patriot, they don’t make socialism like they used to. You would have thought the state would have seized the means of production, or something.


  22. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    - Take an economics class please. -

    I took 3 at UIUC, funny, they somehow missed teaching that Illinois is a socialist state.

    Somebody better tell Fred Gottheil he’s got commies right under his nose, as I remember he wasn’t exactly a liberal.


  23. - Sunshine - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    No need to highlight and create sound bites for those things you would want to avoid in a primary, though there is probably lots of those available.

    Not a bad speech for a State of the State speech. It was adequately boring.


  24. - Rod - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    I would add to Rich’s commentary that the Governor made it reasonably clear he did not believe the Attorney General would succeed in overturning the 7th Court of Appeals ruling on concealed carry and that a law would have to be passed. The vague outline the Governor made for such a law appears to be fully consistent with Senator Gary Forby’s SB1284 filed Tuesday and is less consistent with Rep. Brandon W. Phelps’ HB997. SB 1284 gives a little additional power to local police departments which will make it more acceptable to Chicago based politicians, yet will prohibit Chicago from having a fully separate registration system (Section 95. Preemption). In most respects SB 1284 and HB 997 are the same.

    Despite the objections from at least one Sergeant from the esteemed US Marine Corp on this blog, this former US Army reservist believes when bills are being drafted and floated that achieve most of what ISRA wants some compromises need to be made. I also see no indication at this point also that the Governor is proposing one piece of legislation that will encompass concealed carry, gun transfer rules, assault weapons bans, and limits the size of clips for sale in our state. I expect these may all be separate bills, many of which will not get out of committee if they do ever materialize.


  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 12:31 pm:

    ==Also, the decision to start paying the full annual pension debt. It would have been easier to keep skipping the payments one way or other, and this being Illinois, the unions and the legislators might well have let him get away with it. Both benefited greatly (in union raises and cash for legislative “programs”) from pension-payment skipping. ==

    A better reality would be, “the TAXPAYERS might well have let him get away with it Taxpayers benefited greatly from Pension skipping.”


  26. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    @the Patriot:

    People crack me up when they bring out the Socialism mantra. It’s clear you have no idea what Socialism is or you and others wouldn’t make such silly statements. Get a freaking clue.


  27. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    ==i would like to see an analysis of the maternity/paternity of browns list of 9 accomplishments. was quinn the originator, significantly helpful in their passage, or merely complicit? ==

    Doesn’t matter. The head honcho gets to take credit for things and they get to take the blame for everything.


  28. - RogerWater - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    SB1 still has many unconstitutional parts in it. It would have been nice if Quinn would have said that he will be attending the pension summit next to work out a resolution that will actually work, and not get tied up in court.


  29. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:19 pm:

    Roger, it doesn’t matter if there are blatantly unconstitutional parts, if not all of, SB1. Whenever that is pointed out, the immediate response is, “Well AFSCME will sue whatever is passed”. While that may be true, you’d think they’d pass something that might prove to be a little bit more difficult for AFSCME to overturn in court. Just sayin.


  30. - Stating the obvious - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    Everyone knows Quinn is pushing hard for pension reform, so why mention it in the State of State? Yes, it’s the big elephant in the room, and that elephant eats up a huge part of the budget (and it’s growing every day), but Quinn needs to govern. As Brown pointed out, he’s done that. And he’s done it better than anyone on this blog has given him credit for.


  31. - Stating the obvious - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    PS: Passing someone — ANYTHING — is the crtical first step to getting reform. Unfortunately, without the courts part of the process, it is quite obvious that the public service unions will not agree to an common-sense reforms.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    - the Patriot -,

    Really? Socialism?

    Got some of them …examples… where this is directly going to Socialism?


  33. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    StO: First, your “common-sense reforms” ain’t mine. As for your “critical” first step, I’m pointing out what the result will almost certainly be. I’m curious as to how passing a law that most think is blatantly unconstitutional is a “critical first step” in anything other than making the legislature look even more incompetent than they already look?


  34. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    - the Patriot -,

    ===He faces a veto proof majority in both houses. He has as much say as Mike Bost…none. This is Mike Madigan’s baby now===

    (Sigh)

    The Governor of the State of Illinois is 1/3 of the government. Governor Quinn needs to do HIS job, because MJM has made it quite clear, MJM is doing HIS part and wants others (Cullerton and Quinn) to do theirs.


  35. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    Anybody seen Senate Bill 20? Lets protect the teamsters


  36. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    Oh, also StO, a critical first step in getting people to agree to common-sense reforms is convincing them of the reform’s common-sensicality.


  37. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    PS…blatantly unconstitutional is a “critical first step”

    The Democrat majority’s position on pension reform is getting clearer. Make it vigorous to ensure the union takes it to court. The court will find it unconstitutional and the D’s tell pension reformers, we tried; The unions, we knew it would not be upheld in court; The human services sector…The court has made cuts in human services necessary.


  38. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 2:30 pm:

    They could start by changing SB0001 to take out the stuff that definitely isn’t going to fly with the courts: higher contributions and cutting the COLA.

    Cullerton’s own researcher, Madiar, in his analysis: Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois?, quoting from both the 1970 Con-Con discussions and subsequent court cases, says that it’s a contract and the rules at time of hiring plus legislative enhancements (if an employee contribution is made after the change) apply. You can find those statements conssitently on pages 25, 26, 27, 55 & 57 plus other places. The fixed contributation rate and the fixed COLA rate are part of the protected package.

    I realize the unions are willing to put higher contributions on the table … but, according to those citations, they don’t have to.

    I suspect the reason the GA won’t remove those two items is they want to force the courts to rule yet again they are protected and then use that ruling as an excuse to raise revenues.


  39. - dupage dan - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 2:36 pm:

    57 does indeed sound like alot of facilities. What would help is the dollar amount saved. Many of these “facilities” were small local DHS offices with low headcounts compared to a DOC or SOF type closure. Not blaming PQ for not doing more - he is limited due to constraints as the executive. The budget address is the more important of the 2.


  40. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    That’s some crystal ball you have there Anonymous 2:24. Can I borrow it after you’re done? By the way, the scenario you envision of pension theft, err sorry, “reform” vs. human services cuts is nothing more than a feeble right wing attempt at FUD. RNUG is much more realistic in his assessment.


  41. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Oh, by the way Anonymous 2:24, those things that RNUG refers to are called facts and they support his position. How about using some in support of yours?


  42. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    RNUG-as this plays out I am convinced you are on to something. Anyone who says they are not going to raise taxes or revenues should consider the cost shift. Madigan will get it done and then raise the level once the courts rule out most of the “reforms” as unconstitutional. There is a certain amount of justice in this since the taxpayers have been “borrowing” from the pensions for the last 50 years anyway. BTW anyone who thinks that these bills will solve the pension funding problem needs to look at the math. Cullerton’s trade comes up way short even if a large number opt in. My guess is that after the cost shift that will fall to the locals to fund……


  43. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    - those things that RNUG refers to are called facts -

    The assertions about legality are opinions, not facts. RNUG refers to the analysis by Madiar to support those opinions, who do you think came up with the choice of options as a way to pass constitutional muster?

    I’m not saying you, RNUG, or the rest of the state employees are definitely wrong, but you’re putting an awful lot of eggs in the court’s basket.


  44. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:43 pm:

    Old and In The Way,

    If you back off from 100% funding, you can make the math mostly work for just the pensions.

    The problem comes when you need extra funding for any other State program, including just keeping up with inflation.


  45. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    STL,

    Actulaly, those opinions by Madiar cite exactly on point court rulings.


  46. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    - Actulaly, those opinions by Madiar cite exactly on point court rulings. -

    Look, I’m not a lawyer, maybe you are. All I’m saying is that the person you’re using to support your argument apparently believes this plan is constitutional, because it offers employees a choice.

    Then again, I don’t believe the ultimate goal is to have the courts rule against it in order to raise revenue, apparently you do.

    We’ll see.


  47. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    STL,

    Should have added Madiar was being paid to find a legal way around the pension clause and he came to the conclusion those items were protected based on the various Supreme Court rulings he cited.

    The only potential loophole he found was in contract law and getting the employee / retiree to agree to trade the COLA for some other (already not protected) consideration.

    I read SB0001 the night it was posted and it’s mind-numbing in length and complexity. From the notes I took that night, Part A cuts the COLA without offering a trade while Part B has the COLA / health insurance trade as a fall-back position with a bunch of language that seems to be repeating the already passed and currently in court SB-1313, charging retirees for health insurance.


  48. - Stating the obvious - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:22 pm:

    The reason AFSCME is not “fully” at the table in the pension reform negotiations is because they have several states to look to as to where any reform package is headed in the courts. Our legislative cannot “say” any reforms will be shot down in the courts, because that means they literally breaking the law by knowingly passing unconstitional legislation.

    So RNUG may be onto to something regarding the tax hike. Unfortunately, the longer we wait for passage (and thus a court challenge) the bigger the tax hike will be.


  49. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:23 pm:

    STL,

    Posted the last without seeing your note. I just think there are various undercurrents that aren’t obvious right now.

    Yes, we’ll see. That’s why I posted the early comment about hoping Quinn has a plan C.


  50. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:25 pm:

    The issue in question is whether subsidized health insurance is a protected benefit. If it is protected then all bets are off as far as the Cullerton trade. If it is not then it may be used in a trade. The problem with Cullerton’s trade is not just this but also how many pensioners accept the trade. There is no way you can say how much it saves until you know 1) how many pensioners accept the trade 2) what the cost of the subsidized health insurance will be. I have seen estimates that vary by as much as 22% as far as savings. Theorist is who knows! BTW I am a lawyer and I think the courts are going to consider health insurance as a protected benefit but if I were in their shoes I would litigate anyway. Who knows you might get lucky.


  51. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:40 pm:

    Old and In the Way,

    If you want to be amused at how convoluted SB0001 is and how it takes multiple cuts at the same item, look at Part B page 208 (choice), then go down to page 237 subsection J where, after Part A has been found invalid and Part B COLA trade on page 208 found invalid, it unilaterally imposes lesser of 3% or ½ CPI-U on original pension (non-compounded) with age 67 requirement (assuming I’m reading it right, that was about 2 or 3 AM I took the notes I’m referring to)


  52. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:46 pm:

    @Stating the obvious:

    Other state cases are not relevant to whether or not a pension bill passes muster against the Illinois Constitution.

    Second, the GA can’t break the law by passing a bill. Any bill passed by a legislature is assumed to be Constitutional. It’s their right to pass whatever they like. It’s the job of the courts to say whether a law is actually constitutional or not.

    We can all debate whether we think a particular pension proposal satisfies the requirements of the Constitution but what we think really doesn’t matter. What matters is what the GA thinks they can pass and ultimately what the courts say is allowable. Until the courts get their say we have absolutely no idea where the line is as far as any pension reform goes.


  53. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 4:58 pm:

    Demoralized, I agree. I’d rather not have to litigate, but it’s the only option state retirees and employees have if the legislature passes a law so onerous to them. Actually, they have one other option, that being not to sue, bend over and say “Thank you sir, may I have another?”.


  54. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    RNUG The bill is a mess. I suspect they will clean it up and pare it down at some point, they always do. No lawyer or legal scholar I have talked to thinks the Nekritz Bill is anything but a Hail Mary. The thought being to plead the fact that things are do bad that drastic measures are necessary. The Illinois Supreme Court will not buy that one for a moment. The implications for other contracts would simply be too much.

    As for Cullerton’s trade it all hinges on the subsidized health care. Still, it comes up short even if it passes constitutional muster. If you are over 65 why trade? If you are in TRS you have little or nothing to gain. It’s a better bet than Nekritz but it doesn’t solve the problem.

    The cost shift is the real objective here. It gets the state off the hook if its large enough and the bond raters would love it too. The Speaker has an end game here and there is a reason he held out for the cost shift.

    BTW the first substantive hearing on the health insurance law is 2/20/13.


  55. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 5:17 pm:

    Old and In The Way,

    I agree on the Hail Mary not going to work.

    You can truthfully argue the State is no worse shape than it was 43 years ago. And the Con-Con debates, which the courts have consistently referenced on these issues, and subsequent testimony by the participants made it clear the intention of the clause was to prevent the State trying to claim some kind of fiscal disaster and the pension clause was intended to prevent that.

    I know the bill needs to be cleaned up. I’d just like them to eliminate the blatantly obvious problems with it while they are doing so. I also understand the desire to get the full COLA off the books because it makes a huge difference in the current unfunded liability … if, as you say, they can persuade people to take the trade.

    Even if it doesn’t fully “solve” the problem, we do need to get some changes that are legal implemented. That’s why I’d like to see something legal passed, so the State can move on to the rest of the spending and revenue problems.


  56. - retired and fed up - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 5:31 pm:

    With regard to the health insurance premiums state statute says and has for some time that for every year of state service a retiree does not have to pay 5% of the premium. Thus after 20 years the entire premium is paid by the state upon retirement. It was not only part of my employment contract, it was also state law. I recently retired from the state with 30 years during which I made my pension premimums. Asking me to choose to give up one of two benefits which I earned during those 30 years is not in any way consideration which is required by law. I get nothing in return. I am a retired attorney who was willing to give up the high private sector compensation as I have never desired great wealth and wanted to do some good for the state and I did a lot of that. Yes, I know state should have been capitalized a lot in this, but I’m just not feeling respectful right now.


  57. - retired and fed up - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 5:35 pm:

    I forgot to addm the retirement benefits promised allowed me to give up the high salary so I didn’t have to provide totally for my retirement. Further, after 30 years and all those “huge” AFSCME raises I almost made what a new associate now makes in a mid-sized law firm.


  58. - retired and fed up - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 5:36 pm:

    that should have been pension payments. Since I no longer have to type lengthy legal documents my skills have diminished.


  59. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Feb 7, 13 @ 7:06 pm:

    Retired

    I left the government a little more than 30 years ago. I can say you are 100% right on the salary inequity, at least for lawyers. Probably true across the board.

    I have family impacted by this so I am not exactly unbiased but I think the constitutional hurdle is pretty high on this. The Pension clause was written the way it was for a reason and I think this will be evident to anyone who studies it at all. Again, there is an end game here that is not being revealed. Believe me Madigan and Cullerton are not just winging this. We aren’t that smart and they aren’t that dumb……

    PQ? Yeah, he is just a passenger on this ride.


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* Yet another stumble
* Yesterday's blog posts

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