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Pension committee to look at “incomplete” numbers

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013

* From Rep. Elaine Nekritz’s spokesman…

The two subcommittees of five members of the House-Senate pension conference committee are scheduled to meet privately this Friday afternoon. I am told some incomplete actuarial numbers have been submitted to the conferees and they will be discussing those and next steps at their meetings.

* Meanwhile

GOP House lawmakers are calling for the legislature to be in constant special session until a pension fix is approved.

Despite the absence of a bill from the legislative conference committee charged with crafting legislation, which is still waiting on actuarial data, State Reps. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) and other GOP legislators will hold a press conference in Addison’s town hall on Wednesday morning to demand that Governor Pat Quinn call a special session each day until the legislature passes a comprehensive pension reform bill.

“All legislators have voted on some form of pension reform over the last five months, there is no reason not to call us back to Springfield,” said Sandack. “Wasting $17 million a day on a political stunt is unacceptable. Governor Quinn cutting pay for legislators is grandstanding and meaningless if we are not called back to session.”

The $17 million to which Sandack is referring is the amount that used to be added daily to the state’s unfunded pension liability, but that amount was revised substantially downward several weeks ago by the Quinn Administration to $5 million.

One political stunt deserves another, I suppose.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - c - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    i hope the lawmakers are using thier salaries to foot the 43K a day cost to do so then..because im tired of helping foot the bill for thier incompetency.

  2. - Juice - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    They just want their per diem, which was not vetoed.

  3. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    Just pass the original SB2404 and be done with it.

  4. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    Actuarial numbers? We don’t need no stink’n actuarial numbers. We need our paychecks.

  5. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    –One political stunt deserves another, I suppose.

    Amen, Rich.

  6. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    = = = They just want their per diem, which was not vetoed. ===

    Cue Dire Straits:

    “. . . I want my per diem . . .”

  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    stunt (def): calling on the GA to be in session continuously, without a bill to consider.

    reminds me of the sheriff in blazing saddles.

    we dont have blago to call continuous specials, so lets do it to ourselves. no reason for ridicule there.

  8. - Obama's Puppy - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    This is a crisis manufactured by MJM, why he thinks this is good for the Democratic party is beyond anyone’s comprehension.

    Could it be that this is a mistake? Oh god no he never makes a mistake - well he has made quite a few over the last month and a half. For the party to be split on pensions, marriage equality, and guns is not a good position to be in going into an election.

  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    Bill White,

    SB2404 is just as unconstitutional as SB0001. It’s not a contractual choice if you don’t have the option to keep what you already have … and that isn’t in Sb2404.

    The committee has heard testimony about the real problem, lack of State revenue. They need to draft a bill that solves that problem instead of attempting pension theft.

  10. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    “House-Senate pension conference committee are scheduled to meet privately this Friday”

    isn’t there an Open Meetings Act issue here ?

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:24 am:


  12. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    yes, SB 2404 is not “more constitutional” just because it steals less money. No option to reject offer and no consideration because you lose every which way.

  13. - Chris - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    “It’s not a contractual choice if you don’t have the option to keep what you already have”

    But they Legis is free from constitutional constraints on the retiree medical–they *could* just take it away completely. So the choice is (1) ‘buy’ medical with a piece of the pension, or (2) give up medical, keep pension. Seems like a bona fide choice to me, from a pretty neutral Constitutional perspective.

  14. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:31 am:

    . . . It’s not a contractual choice if you don’t have the option to keep what you already have . . .

    *IF* the State can lawfully rescind health benefits, offering health benefits in exchange for “consideration” strikes me as at least potentially constitutional.

    Do you believe Illinois could reduce health benefits as a stand alone item? If “no” then I agree with you. If “yes” then it’s not so clear to me that SB2404 is necessarily unconstitutional.

    That said, revenue does need to be part of the solution, as well as selling bonds at historically low interest rates to clear up the backlog of bills and thereby give the state a Keynesian stimulus.

  15. - Pepe Silvio - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    This whole pension debate has turned into a political sideshow, nothing more, nothing less. The Illinois legislature is a bunch of big talkers who lack the necessary to send such bill to the Governor. I don’t blame them as I view any changes in benefits to violate Article 13, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution.

    the legislature is excellent ast pointing fingers. The house is blaming the Senate that their proposal doesn’t save enough money. the senate is blamng the House that their proposal is un-Constitutional. The Governor is blaming the GA for failing to get something done. The GA is blaming the Governor for being schizophrenic and constantly flip-flopping. The Republicans blame the Democrats for causing the mess. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for not taking the necessary actions to help pass such bill. The GA is blaming the Systems for not producing the actuarial studies quick enough.

    Any chance for blame has been used by any and all parties available. The finances of the State are screwed up because of the political dynamic (and Chicago politicians). We have had this mentality for years to spend every dime and some, during the good times and the bad times. Legislative leaders and Governors caved in to the budget pressures in order to pass budgets and win elections. People need to stop casting blame and man up and take the vote to send such legislation through the Courts so that the Courts will tell us such measure is un-Constitutional. Then and only then, can the state take the proper action to dig itself out of the mess, whether it be by increasing revenues or amending the Constitution to make such benefit cuts permissable.

  16. - c - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    Taking money thats already been paid in by the person and keeping it while making them start over from scratch is highly unconstitutional.

  17. - c - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    those of that paid into the system are not lenders we didnt put the money in so the state could borrow the money and never repay it.

  18. - Nickypiii - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    Only 5 million a day now? Maybe 2nd Tier employees and fully paying the States required pension contribution is having an impact on the pension liability. Annual structural revenue deficits, however, aren’t helping Illinois. Increased revenue is the ONLY way out of this mess.

  19. - Anon. - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    ==So the choice is (1) ‘buy’ medical with a piece of the pension, or (2) give up medical, keep pension. Seems like a bona fide choice to me, from a pretty neutral Constitutional perspective.==

    Except the choice is (1) give up medical and some pension or (2) give up more pension and get medical. “Keep pension” is not an option.

  20. - Old and In The Way - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    The Illinois Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on the health care premium issue. It won’t come up until September session. However, if you are a pensioner now and have access to health care, even if you pay a premium, then that is the status quo. Denying you access in lieu of a choice is not really a choice. Heads I win, tails you lose. The pensioners would have to be able to maintain the status quo, you can’t force me to make a decision in other words.

    BTW I think that the Illinous Supreme Court could well decide that health care is a protected benefit. It was voted on, codified and accepted by the participants, finded by the state and was not available until retirement requirements were met. Why would it not be considered a contract? Narduli had to contort himself and the law to extremes and still couldn’t come up with a plausible reason nor judgement.

    Also, GOP, it’s $4.83 million per day and that’s peanuts in comparison to other budgetary numbers…….at least get to most basic facts right!

  21. - Joe M - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    ==*IF* the State can lawfully rescind health benefits, offering health benefits in exchange for “consideration” strikes me as at least potentially constitutional.==

    In SB 2404, the State was only offering “access” to the state’s health insurance plans. They were not defining the coverage or how much that coverage would even cost.

    AFSCME negotiated the premiums for retirees for three years, but beyond that, state officials in committee hearings on SB 2404 even admitted that after the three years of the AFSCME contract retirees may have to pay more, or possibly even the entire premium. They said that merely having access to the state health insurance would still be a consideration, because even paying the full rates would be cheaper than getting individual insurance. That doesn’t sound like a very good contract consideration to me, when the consideration is not even defined as to what it is.

  22. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    Chris & Bill,

    That one (health insurance) is still in court. And there are, at least, two opposing rulings on it: Maag & Marconi.

    Maag, which found no contract and no pension clause protection because the health insurance wasn’t in the pension section of IL codes, is being appealed to the IL SC. Believe the written briefs have to be filed by Aug 1 and then oral arguments. A lot of people think Nardulli reached the wrong conclusion re contracts in Maag.

    Marconi, an appellate court found the trial courts ruling of pension clause protection was unneeded based on the facts of the case. The appellate court returned it for futrhter action, but directed that, lacking written evidence to the contrary, there is a strong presumption of a valid contract on retiree health insurance.

    We haven’t heard the end of either of these cases. The key point, however, is the insurance case rulings to date are primarily based on contract law, not the pension clause. The previous diminishment cases (pay, COLA, length of service issues) that relied on the pension clause had very clear rulings: no diminishment.

  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    “Holy underwear! We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph! I didn’t get a harrumph out of that guy…..”

  24. - Dirt Diver - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    I greatly respect Rep. Reboletti. However, I find it ironic that he is demanding action on pension reform. It must be mentioned that Rep. Reboletti voted no on SB 1 (Madigan/House version). He certainly can’t argue that SB 1 didn’t go far enough, as such bill saved $188B in state contributions over 30 years.

    It is hard for me to take the Illinois Republicans serious on this issue, and this is a good reason as to why.

  25. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:58 am:


    If the IL Supreme Court rules that the General Assembly cannot reduce health insurance benefits, then I agree - SB2404 has the same flaw as SB1.

    However, if health insurance benefits can be unilaterally reduced without constitutional violation, then, to trade health benefits for pension benefits would seem constitutional.

    If you are saying that SB2404 diminishes benefits in other ways, then that aspect of the bill might also be unconstitutional.

    = = =

    If SB2404 is taken off the table, then what the “stalemate” is about is a refusal to cave in to the Ty Fahner - Civic Committee - Chicago Rribune vision of pension reform and my preference would be that this stalemate continue.

  26. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:59 am:


    See you weighed in while I was typing. Totally agree with you.

    PS Good to see you back.

  27. - Denim Chicken - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    =It must be mentioned that Rep. Reboletti voted no on SB 1 (Madigan/House version).=

    Would love to know how many other HGOP members that voted no on SB 1 will be attending this press conference.

  28. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    Bill White,

    Yes, I believe both the COLA change and increased contributions for current employees w/o any new benefit (don’t make me laugh about the guarentee) count as diminishment.

  29. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    Will the faux constitutional “experts” never cease their chatter?

    I just hope the CC is closing in on a bill now. To call a never-ending session, without something from the Conference Committee to vote on, is more theater of the absurd.

    We know Sandack is clueless.

    Reboletti knows better. He must be feeling a lot of pressure, and willing to play the fool for a while.

    All of this was “manufactured by MJM”, despite clear harm to him, Lisa, and the Dem party? You’ve got to be kidding!

  30. - Old and In The Way - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    Back in Illinois to see family for a few days. It’s hotter here than Louisiana or Alabama this week! The will probably change next week when I’m back in court in Louisiana!

  31. - Rusty618 - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:47 pm:

    The word is that the pension conference committee might try to adopt a plan similar what Glenn Poshard testified about for the state universities. This would take way the current 3% compounded COLA and replace it with a COLA that only keeps pace with half the inflation rate. This could also potentially be unconstitutional.

  32. - Jack - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:48 pm:

    I wonder how that would work. They would legally still get pension service credit, yet would pay $0 contribution on $0 salary.

  33. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:13 pm:

    Would there be any reason at all not to release all this actuarial data when it is complete? And, if Nekritz’ spokesman thinks it’s incomplete, wouldn’t a good question be when will it be complete, and when will it be released for public consumption and comment?

    Oh, by the way, the Honorable Abner Mikva has commented on the unconstitutionality of the proposed bills, and I would hardly call him a “Faux constitutional expert”, but go ahead and pass whatever bill you guys like, and we’ll see ya in court.

  34. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    If they’re not going to get their pay, these fine Reps want to make sure they get their per diems. Special session every day takes care of that.

  35. - Tsavo - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    Would judges be included in this 1/2 CPI COLA or would they keep the 3% COLA?

    If the committee claims it is Constitutional to change the COLA to 1/2 the CPI then judges should be included.

  36. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==Taking money thats already been paid in by the person and keeping it while making them start over from scratch is highly unconstitutional. ==

    That’s not in any plan so I don’t see the point of that comment.

    ==Will the faux constitutional “experts” never cease their chatter?==

    I completely agree. There is one fact: nobody knows what is or isn’t constitutional until the Illinois Supreme Court says so. People can engage in debate all they want but there is only one “expert” that matters in the end and that is the Court.

  37. - Andrew Szakmary - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    Pepe, your suggestion that the state could perhaps deal with the pension problem by changing the state constitution is questionable, to say the least. Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution states “No State shall … pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts….” I am pretty sure that if Illinois changed its constitution to remove the pension protection clause, and then diminished or eliminated my earned pension benefits it would run afoul of this provision. At best, removing the pension protection clause from the state constitution would allow Illinois to change the terms of future benefit accruals (for example, by increasing employee contributions) for current Tier 1 employees who have not yet retired.

  38. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    If it looks like a duck and qacks like a duck and walks like a duch it is a duck. Diminishment of pensions is illegal period. Agree totaly with RNUG and OLD and IN THE WAY on this. The IL contstitution was amended to include the “diminshment clause” for exactly this moment in time. The politcal class know this is true, but they don’t want held accountable.

  39. - anon for a reason - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    The actuarial numbers as of June 30, 2013 may show a great improvement to past reports. The stock market increased about 30 percent and a large number of people retired. The newly retired cement the forward going liability. The newly retired diminish forward going variance/risk to the systems. Draw your own conclusions on why even partial numbers are not public.

  40. - retired and fed up - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    5% health care premium payment by State for each year worked up to 20 was codified and until the recent change State law and has been part of employment contracts for State employees and also a benefit offered to members of State retirement systems. I accepted and put in 30 years with the State. Note the constitution refers to contracts and benefits (plural) thus there are two basis for the premium change to be held unconstitutional.

  41. - Joe M - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    The General Assembly wants to take the easy route and diminish the retirement benefits of teachers, state, community college, and state university employees and retirees. They want to see if they can get away with making those groups suffer the vast majority of the pain.

    If they can get away with it - problem solved. They would rather try that long shot with the courts than admit they used the shorting of the pension funds to keep income taxes at a low 3% for 20 years.

    And they would rather sock it to state pension employees and retirees rather than have to sell the harder tasks of increasing revenue, cutting spending, etc. to the entire Illinois population. Also, if the courts rule against their plans, they can just blame it on the courts instead of that they had a bad plan. So I really don’t see the General Assembly coming up with a Constitutional plan.

  42. - Harry Wasko - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    Lets hurry up and pass something so Demoralized and walkinfool and Ty Fayner and the tea party boys will all be happy happy happy. Throw in the bankrupt Tribune too while they are at it.

  43. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    Anon for a reason, is the reason because you’re unclear on a few things?

    First of all, the funds’ investment returns should beat their actuarial assumption, but no one made 30% last year with a diversified portfolio. By way of example, the 2 big California pensions, Calpers and CalSTRS, are reporting they earned 12-13%. It’s not at all unusual for the Illinois funds to not have the June 30 figures until early August-lots of reporting and calculations involved.

    The increased retirements reported by SERS (and I really don’t know if the numbers are up at the others) will adversely impact the actuarial report if the System underestimated the expected rate of retirements. Trends vary on the salaries of new hires vs. the retirees they are replacing; it’s best not to generalize.

    Finally, if the numbers are “incomplete” in part because the Uni Presidents’ proposal is being evaluated, that’s because the proposal’s COLA and “Tier 3″ benefits are difficult to cost out.

    If you pull off the tinfoil hat, that may also help clear things up for you.

  44. - JC - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    Joe M. has said it well. These groups have been easy pickins for decades now. No high profile earners ready to file suit for all the plundering of their saved money, a polite group, in general—not prone to violent street protests. As I said, easy pickins. If you want evidence of that, just start a conversation about decreasing social security benefits…..

  45. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:05 pm:

    ==Lets hurry up and pass something so Demoralized and walkinfool and Ty Fayner and the tea party boys will all be happy happy happy. Throw in the bankrupt Tribune too while they are at it. ==

    Bite me. I will be affected by anything they pass so you can go fly a kite if you think I would be “happy, happy, happy.” It’s apparent you don’t get the point of my comment, which was my agreement that everybody thinks they are constitutional scholars. There are many of them on this blog. But reality is a stubborn thing to some. As I said, in the end it doesn’t make a bit of difference what all of the constitutional scholars on this comment board think. There is only one group of individuals who’s opinion matters in the end and that is the Illinois Supreme Court. I don’t want any diminishment to my retirement. And, yes, I wish they would pass something so that we can get on with it and have the Court tell us what is or is not constitutional. But thank you for adding your brilliance to the discussion.

  46. - Old and In The Way - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    Well said!

  47. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:18 pm:

    Everybody including the legislators knows the plans are entirely unconstitutional. The question is whether they think passing a doomed bill is politically expedient in the short run. But this whole process has produced a huge amount of anxiety for retirees and current employees.

  48. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 5:09 pm:

    Wow Harry.

    You threw me in with the “tea party boys”, Ty Fahner, and the Trib. — each of whom I’ve spent a lot of time and energy opposing.

    Oh well. No need to bite me.

  49. - Harry Wasko - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 9:34 pm:

    We could have used you two tough guys in our platoon in Viet Nam. We would have won the war

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Revision of Automatic Transfer Law Achieves Common Cause for Illinois Juvenile Justice Reform
* MRED becomes Centennial Sponsor for IAR’s 100th Anniversary
* Chuck Weaver selected to replace Darin LaHood in 37th Senate District
* What Freedom Caucus members are looking for in a Speaker
* Senator Weaver sworn in, says he's ‘ready to get to work’
* Sen. McCarter hints at challenging Shimkus for 15th CD seat
* Name change sanctioned by IAR board at Fall Business Meetings
* Teamwork makes RPAC Phone-a-thon successful

* Board’s New Rules Will Reduce Risk of Tire Fires and Disease-Carrying Mosquitos
* Illinois Hosts Inaugural Interstate Medical Licensure Compact - Aims to increase health care access through multi-state physician licensure program
* IEMA Announces Elgin Community College Attains ‘Ready to Respond Campus’ Designation - Elgin one of five Illinois campuses to receive distinction
* New Mortgage Loan Interface Increases Efficiency, Compliance
* State Fire Marshal Ushers In Fire Prevention Week - “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!”

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