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Quinn to do a drop-by at pension summit

Monday, Feb 11, 2013

* I’m told that Gov. Pat Quinn will drop by today’s pension reform summit, which was called by organized labor. He won’t attend the whole event, but he has sent a couple of people in his stead, Gary Hannig and Jerry Stermer. The governor’s office stresses that Quinn and his staff have met with the unions “numerous times” over the past year.

Senate President John Cullerton is sending people today as well, but Speaker Madigan is not. House GOP Leader Tom Cross will attend today…

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross will be available for questions from the media after the “We Are One Illinois” Pension Summit this afternoon. The Summit is being held at 1 p.m. at the Illinois AFL-CIO offices in Burr Ridge, 999 McClintock Drive, Suite 100. Cross will be available outside those offices immediately following the meeting.

* In related news, Finke had a very good piece over the weekend on pension reform

“Of principle concern to the Commission is the accumulation of large unfunded accrued liabilities resulting for the most part from the inadequacy of government contributions in prior years to meet increases in costs due to the upward trend in salary rates and large additions to the membership of the funds.”

That could have come from any number of studies in recent years about funding problems facing public employee pension plans in Illinois. But it didn’t. That warning was part of a report by the Illinois Public Employees Pension Laws Commission to Gov. William Stratton … in 1959.

Go read the whole thing. Some interesting items

“Then, during the Thompson administration, they came up with this proposal that they felt they really don’t need to contribute even this 100 percent of payout because there’s been good years of investment return,” Goldstein said. “Because of that, they proposed they would only pay 60 percent of the payout.

And

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club said Edgar’s approach “was structurally flawed from the beginning.” Not only was the payment plan backloaded, it wasn’t based on actuarial requirements. Consequently, pension debt continued to balloon.

And

Full funding assumes that all workers will retire at one time and the state will have to pay their pension benefits.

“You never have to pay all the benefits promised (at once),” Martire said.

* And the Tribune panics

Lawmakers have stalled on fixing this mess. They didn’t even meet for more than a few hours the entire month of January. February doesn’t look much better: The House meets for only nine days; the Senate is in Springfield only eight days. But the members rack up pension credit regardless of whether they’re in Springfield.

They’ve “stalled” for decades.

* Related…

* Tom Kacich: Pension mess not Quinn’s fault

* Prison officers ‘not the enemy’ in state pension battle

* Deadbeat Illinois: State falling behind on burial expenses, too

* Unionized prison employees picket at Menard

- Posted by Rich Miller        


13 Comments
  1. - Loop Lady - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    Pretty arrogant of Madigan, but I’m not surprised.

    He could at least send a surrogate.


  2. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    ===He could at least send a surrogate.===

    Darth Vader was not available.


  3. - wishbone - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    Why the Republicans can’t make the case that they would do a better job than the Democrats (my party) of handling this problem is a complete mystery to me. If only they did not waste their efforts trying to roll back the clock on social issues they have no control over they might just fashion a majority party based on fiscal responsibility. Nah.


  4. - rusty618 - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:59 pm:

    If Quinn and his staff have meet with the unions “numerous times” over the past year, why have these meeting not been publicized, and why have they not even considered any of the union’s proposals? Everything Quinn or the GA comes up with seems to be unconstitutional.


  5. - Under Paid - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    “Why the Republicans can’t make the case that they would do a better job than the Democrats (my party) of handling this problem is a complete mystery to me.”

    The answer to the question seems simple to me. The Republicans, and the Democrats, have three basic options to solve the problem:

    1 - They could cut pensions. This option appears to have major legal problems so it is not one consider any more.
    2 - Raise taxes. For a Republican this option is ‘dead on arrival’. The tax increase required to solve the problem would cause the Republican base to revolt.
    3 - Cut spending in other parts of the state budget. This works for Republicans until the numbers come out. As the cuts will need to cover the entire load of pension reform they will need to be so deep that members of both parties will gasp. The program cuts, layoffs, closed facilities, etc. will create lots of negativism in the taxpayers (aka voters) toward anyone who votes for it.

    If I was a leader of the Republican party I would let the Democrats take the heat when the solution is put forward. I might then gain more votes for myself at little or not cost to myself.


  6. - TwoFeetThick - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    === If I was a leader of the Republican party I would let the Democrats take the heat when the solution is put forward. I might then gain more votes for myself at little or not cost to myself.===

    ‘Cause that strategy has worked out just swimmingly for Republicans so far. Why, they have almost 20 members in the Senate!

    If they would put together a thoughtful, alternative proposal on, well, anything, perhaps people wouldn’t be voting them into oblivion.


  7. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:59 pm:

    I’ve long been a proponent of the idea that the Republicans should introduce bills with their ideas outlined, even if those bills die in committee or on the floor. BUT, notice that Congressional Republicans have done just that on the budget, and for 1400 days the Democrat Senate has not passed a bill, yet somehow Republicans are to blame. So it really becomes an issue where the media refuses to hold certain parties responsible. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…


  8. - Liberty_First - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    Underpaid- they could also amortize the unpaid debts over a longer period of time. The quest to take a 40% funded system to 100% funding in 30 years to save on bond rates is simply not possible without screwing pensioners.


  9. - walkinfool - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    When are we going to stop rehashing the history? All the people working on this know all of that already.

    Let’s just talk proposed, realistic solutions.

    The only way good Republican ideas on pensions will become bills, is when Nekritz or Cullerton take them,(as they already have), and put them in their own bills. The reluctance of individual GOPers (other than Fortner), to formally stand up for their own ideas on this issue, has been curious to me.

    Perhaps it’s just risk avoidance, since every piece of every solution angers some big constituency.


  10. - Under Paid - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    “The quest to take a 40% funded system to 100% funding in 30 years to save on bond rates is simply not possible without screwing pensioners.”

    Any major change to what is paid to current pensioners and those who are currently working for the state runs into constitutional issues. My guess is that the pensioners and current workers would win in the courts if any type of major change was approved.

    Some very minor changes might be possible if they done with great care. The problem is that minor changes may not save much money for the pension systems. In addition, the unions would fight hard in the courts against any change of any type no matter how minor. The minor changes, if they come, would also not appear for years because of the court fight. In addition, at least some Democrats would have to vote for any type of changes. That probably would cause lots of unhappyness with one of the largest block of their current backers (people who are active party workers, campain donors, voters, etc.).

    I do not see the pensioners or the current workers putting in any major amount of money to reform the pension system.


  11. - Nickypiii - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    AFSCME has already volunteered to increase employee contributions by 2% only if and when the State legislature agrees to never again short the States required pension contributions. This union idea is the only proposal so far that will pass Illinois’s Constitutional requirement of undiminished pension benefits.


  12. - titan - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    @Nickypm - not necessarily…requiring increased contirbution for the same old previously promised benefit is a “diminishment”, so it might not pass muster.


  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    Read “Quinn to do drive-by” instead of “Quinn to do drop-by”.


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