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*** UPDATED x2 - MJM “scared straight” amendments surface *** Unions warning members about impending legislative “attacks”

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013

* As I told subscribers this morning, Speaker Madigan is calling yet another “weekly order of business” this Thursday on pension reform. From the IEA

This means there will be floor debate on legislative amendments that, if passed into law, would reduce pension benefits for participants in TRS, SURS and the other state pension systems.

The floor debate and voting, which are expected to begin on Thursday, will focus on areas of great concern to IEA members in the affected pension systems;

    The annual cost of living adjustment (COLA)
    The retirement age for active members of the state pension systems
    Employee contributions to the retirement systems, as well other pension-impacting proposals offered by members of the House.

This is a serious attack on your pension– Call NOW!

IEA members are urged to contact their state representatives immediately to stop these pension-cutting proposals from getting out of the House.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Tribune

…House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has filed a package of amendments viewed by some as a “scared straight” approach that could shock government workers opposing any kind of benefit rollback into thinking about the potential alternatives.

Madigan distributed to his Democratic troops a description that says one amendment would eliminate all future cost-of-living adjustments and one would halt the adjustments until the pension plans reach an 80 percent funding level. A third proposal would raise the retirement age for full benefits to 67 and a fourth would require employees to chip in another 5 percent of their paychecks toward retirement. The changes would apply to lawmakers, rank-and-file state workers, university employees and public school teachers outside of Chicago.

Republicans this week have grumbled that they expected Madigan to put these before the full House Thursday to test each measure’s support on up-or-down votes similar to the way he rolled out more than a dozen amendments on the concealed weapons legislation on Tuesday.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Madigan’s “scared straight” amendments that will be debated tomorrow…

* HB1154ham001

* HB1154ham002

* HB1165ham001

* HB1166ham001

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Meanwhile, this is from AFSCME

URGENT: Strong rumors in the state Capitol indicate that legislation stripping state employees of their right to collective bargaining over health care costs and benefits could be moved in the House of Representatives as soon as today. Your action is needed NOW to prevent its passage.

At this point there is no substantive language or a specific bill. But a shell bill that could be the legislative vehicle passed out of committee on Tuesday night, Feb. 26. Substantive language could be added to this or other legislation and called for a vote of the full House chamber at any time. If passed by the House, the bill would go to the Senate.

This is a direct attack on state workers’ fundamental right to collective bargaining. Negotiating health care benefits and coverage is just as vital as bargaining over wages and other benefits.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


52 Comments
  1. - Billy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    Hope all state workers, teachers, and state pensioneers hear the call, to let there legislators know how they feel about pension reduction!


  2. - Fair Share - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    Maybe objecting lawmakers can hide in Wisconsin to defeat a quorum.


  3. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    We will Bill. They’ll hear from us (and our family and friends who vote too) today as well as at election time.


  4. - Bill White - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 11:57 am:

    Removing health care from collective bargaining would seem to pave the way for a pension bill that allows individual employees to “voluntarily” accept reduced benefits in exchange for a superior health care package.

    If health care is collectively bargained a pension deal based on trading health care for COLA reform wouldn’t be possible.


  5. - Quiet Sage - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    The Buddha said that all things move in cycles. The era of public sector collective bargaining, which began in Illinois in 1983 with the passage of state collective bargaining legislation, may be coming to an end with this bill, as we return to a less progressive time.


  6. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    You all talk a big game and more power to you, but if no one lost the last time around for voting for a tax increase is anyone going to lose for sticking it to public employee unions?


  7. - Pete Granada - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    One Man there are two types of elections-Primary and General.


  8. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    hope they have a plan when the pension systems turn out the lights and the school districts cannot get prop tax hikes passed


  9. - Downstater - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    =The annual cost of living adjustment (COLA)
    The retirement age for active members of the state pension systems
    Employee contributions to the retirement systems, as well other pension-impacting proposals offered by members of the House= These seem like reasonable proposals to reduce the financail crisis in Illinois. They will be on par with the private sector workers, who got stuck with a 67% increase in taxes.


  10. - archimedes - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    If the reduction in COLA and other pension changes were only for 4 years (like the 67% income tax increase) - you might not hear as much complaining.


  11. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    AFMSCME and the IEA went gave millions to support democrats in the last 2 elections and it is time get what they paid for. This is like telling the followers of Jim Jones to ask for a soda after they draink their 3rd cup of cool aid.


  12. - retired and fed up - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    State workers paying into the pensions systems also got hit with that tax increase.


  13. - mid-level - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:48 pm:

    I can quickly see two problems with a healthcare/pension choice/consideration and I’m sure there are more.

    1. ObamaCare;
    2. You still have to pay healthcare premiums and CMS will set your rates.


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    –This is like telling the followers of Jim Jones to ask for a soda after they draink their 3rd cup of cool aid.–

    Huh?

    And it’s Kool-Aid. Oh yeah!


  15. - mid-level - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    It is truly disappointing that these “weekly order of business” sessions are basically political gotcha games to provide cover for the next election cycle.

    Although this is Illinois and I know I shouldn’t expect much else.


  16. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    One Man there are two types of elections-Primary and General.

    Yep, did anyone who voted for the tax increase lose their primary?


  17. - Irish - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    Downstater - @ 1:03 pm: I am a state employee and I pay that tax also.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    –It is truly disappointing that these “weekly order of business” sessions are basically political gotcha games to provide cover for the next election cycle.–

    I like it. Put real issues out on the floor, debate them, and then vote. Let everyone see where you stand.

    What’s wrong with that? For years, all the complaining has been about backroom deals and legislators being presented with faits accompli with no time for discussion or input (see Mike Bost, You Tube hero).

    To me, there’s nothing more galling than a legislator complaining about making a tough vote. If you can’t handle that, buy a lunchbox and get another line of work.


  19. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:14 pm:

    ===I like it.===

    Me too. We’ve been debating the pension issue for 3-4 years now. Enough already, let’s vote on something. In fact, let’s vote on a lot of things and see where everyone is at. It’s put up or shut up time.

    The sooner we pass something the sooner it can be challenged in court and then, maybe, we’ll see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    These “weekly orders of business” are very interesting though. It sure isn’t business as usual under the dome this week.


  20. - Jechislo - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    Unconstitutional.


  21. - Centennial - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    I like it too.

    I don’t agree that it’s political cover. Rather, I think it makes everyone accountable. Even those suppressed under a super majority . . . everyone has to answer for their stance on each issue. Each legislator is now accountable to their district for their vote on each aspect of these tough issues. Put up or shut up time indeed!


  22. - foster brooks - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    madigan beter be careful, if he loses in court LOOK OUT!


  23. - AC - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    HB1166 HA1 sounds far more reasonable than anything I’ve seen proposed by Madigan. It makes no changes other than a 5% contribution as near as I can tell. No COLA diminishment, no elimination of rule of 85, just increased contribution, heck it might even be constitutional. Is this being proposed as an alternative or is it one of several bills they want to pass simultaneously?


  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    http://www.governing.com/news/state/sl-courts-block-efforts-at-public-pension-change.html

    What’s good for the goose…..


  25. - MontgomeryCo - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    I don’t even agree with the 5% increase. Why, as teachers making a very modest salary should my wife and I have to pay an additional 5% for our retirement? My wife gets raises of less than 2% in 2013 and 2014. The cost of everything just keeps going up and we want wages to go down? In many rural (and some not a rural) Illinois communities the local school district is the largest employer in town. Do we want to cause even more layoffs?

    And, as Irish said, we pay increased income taxes just like everyone else.


  26. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    Not allowing the workforce to retire until age 67 will result in most maxing out their retirement benefit thus the retirement payment would be more $$, an older higher paid workforce and where many would work past 40 years of service. Unreal, I think it is great to have 65 year old Prison Guards, Teachers, and Parole Officers.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===It is truly disappointing that these “weekly order of business” sessions are basically political gotcha games to provide cover for the next election cycle.===

    100% Disagree.

    Love it. Up or down, where are you at, no games.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing like a straight answer to a straight question brought forward.


  28. - RNUG - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:36 pm:

    How about they forget the illegal stuff and put some of the legal proposals on the table?

    Individual vote son things like:

    * lowering the funding target to, say, 80%

    * reseting the ramp / extending the repayment period

    * changing to a fixed flat funding amount for the “unfunded liability” portion of the payment

    * redirecting the pension bond payments as the bonds expire

    * shifting the “normal” cost to the school districts

    * adding a “guarentee” that allows any individual member of any pension system to sue over underfunding

    * extending the “temporary” income tax and dedicating the revenue stream as ADDITIONAL payment into the pension funds

    * raising the income tax beyond the current “temporary” level

    * taxing all retirement income


  29. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:43 pm:

    RNUG,
    They don’t like any of those because it doesn’t satisfy the blood lust.


  30. - Slick Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    *** I like it. Put real issues out on the floor, debate them, and then vote. Let everyone see where you stand. ***

    I cannot believe that I am agreeing with Word. Man, the apocolypse is upon us. LOL!


  31. - RNUG - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 3:58 pm:

    Bill,

    I know that … they’re still looking for someone else to blame for their spending addiction that required them to “steal” from the pension funds …


  32. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    –I cannot believe that I am agreeing with Word–

    Slick, doesn’t that feel good? Go with it, man, lol.

    Seriously, no matter your politics, how anyone could object to debating issues in the open and making legislators accountable is beyond me.

    Mushrooms of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your anonymity.


  33. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:21 pm:

    The legislators who don’t like it are the ones voting in ways opposed by the majority of their district. Most suburban voters want no concealed carry in schools, for example. Republicans who voted against that restriction may regret that vote some day.


  34. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:32 pm:

    =These seem like reasonable proposals to reduce the financail (sic) crisis in Illinois. They will be on par with the private sector workers, who got stuck with a 67% increase in taxes.=

    Par, aye, there’s the rub. As I remember, a couple of years ago the best information was that for state employees the benefit package, including pension, was equal to that of large corporations. I expect teachers and university employees may be the same, but do not know. Right now there is an employers market but I think the state is losing a lot of the next generation of top level employees.. That will change and the state will have to pay more to be competitive. Probably a package comparable to that of larger corporations.


  35. - thunder - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:33 pm:

    I think I am gonna not read the news or watch the news for the next three months and listen to all this junk about the elected leaders voting to cut state employee’s benefits. Go after the state employees, should go after all retirement systems, not just state employees. Judges should be included as well as university and politicans. How about cut the politicans retirement percent from 80% to 75% IF YOU PUT IN 45 YEARS LIKE STATE WORKERS HAVE TO DO. If you had one retirement system that we all had the same benefit, I am sure you would save billions of dollars!!


  36. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:36 pm:

    News flash…..we ALL got stuck with a 67% increase in taxes….not just private sector workers. We are taxpayers too


  37. - concern1 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:49 pm:

    Madigan is going power crazy …he was watching as every rep voted yesterday and one rep wanted all votes registered but of course that failed…which means we don’t get a record of how they each voted….this state is being driven right into the ground thanks to king madigan!


  38. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    concern1, what are you talking about? The roll call votes for each amendment can be found here:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory.asp?GA=98&DocNum=1155&DocTypeID=HB&GAId=12&LegID=71607&SessionID=85

    Do just a tiny bit of homework before spouting off.


  39. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 4:55 pm:

    - concern1 -,

    I agree … Wwe should Fire Madigan and teach them all a lesson!

    I have a feeling, we are going to find out how they all are going to vote by the time the dusts settles.


  40. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    –Madigan is going power crazy …he was watching as every rep voted yesterday and one rep wanted all votes registered but of course that failed…which means we don’t get a record of how they each voted–

    LOL, you finally get real transparency and accountability in the GA and the nuts can’t handle it.

    I’m guessing you’re a Republican staffer, somebody’s nephew, who doesn’t want anyone in our crew making a vote ever.


  41. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:27 pm:

    I think the Speaker is simply saying there’s work to be done, time to roll up our sleeves and do it. I like it. To all here who have repeatedly made the point about constitutionality, I think you can stop: now we’re going to find out from the only people who count.


  42. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:27 pm:

    Look, - wordslinger - we want accountability, we just don’t want to personally accountable!

    Good call on guessing. Maybe it’s one of “Two Putts” mushrooms!


  43. - Emily Booth - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:47 pm:

    Someone mentioned Rule of 85. There is no Rule of 85 for Tier 2 employees at SERS. Work til age 67. End of story.

    I’m interested in seeing how Senator Ira I Silverstein will be voting since he doesn’t accept emails from his constituents.


  44. - Ruby - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    Before the state representatives waste their time voting on the unconstitutional proposals listed in the article above, they should consider some of the fair and legal ideas listed by RNUG @ 3:36 pm which would actually solve the pension funding problem and not result in a long court challenge.


  45. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 5:59 pm:

    Oh my Lands! The Crock Pot that’s been simmerin’ for quite some time is about to boil over, it looks like. Well fine. Let’s get on with it. Changes are called for. This is where the hammerin’ out and fine-tuning process begins! Get out your tools and remotes, folks, and batton down the hatches, ‘cuz some Big ‘Ol Storms are a comin’ ta Springfield and yas better be ready!!! Hip hip Hooray!


  46. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 6:05 pm:

    Ruby, good point, but don’t hold your breath. See “blood lust” above.

    I think sessions like tomorrow’s are entirely appropriate. On the record, as noted above.


  47. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 6:22 pm:

    The SSAs. Love it. Our latest, new Abbreviation to comment on. Intimidation usually doesn’t work, but SOMEtimes…hey, at least they’re finally dealing with it.


  48. - RNUG - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 7:39 pm:

    The GA can pass whatever they want, but in the end the only votes that are going to count are the 7 on the IL SC.


  49. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 7:43 pm:

    Could this be a shot fired at AFSCME to show what could happen if they strike?


  50. - Former Merit Comp Slave - Wednesday, Feb 27, 13 @ 10:32 pm:

    NEVER underestimate Mike Madigan. His way of saying put up or shut up. I personally think it’s refreshing - let’s see what comes out in the wash.


  51. - John A Willard - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:06 am:

    Take a look out in the parking lot at your school. See all those foreign made cars. Look around your house. See all the foreign made stuff. Manufacturing workers pay the taxes that pay our salaries and pensions. When we do not reciprocate with buying products from Illinois manufacturers we can expect that there will be no money for our wages and benefits. Life is not a one way street.


  52. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:29 am:

    Do you shop at Wally World?


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