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This just in… Pension bill signed

Thursday, Dec 5, 2013

* From a press release, and check out MJM’s high praise for himself…

Governor Pat Quinn today signed into law his number one priority – historic legislation that addresses the most critical fiscal challenge in Illinois by reforming the state’s pension systems. This comprehensive pension reform solution will eliminate the state’s unfunded liability and fully fund the pension systems, a standard set by the Governor two years ago.

After inheriting the worst-funded pension crisis in the nation that was 70 years in the making, Governor Quinn made pension reform his top priority and worked with legislative leaders and legislators to pass Senate Bill 1. In June, he proposed a conference committee to break the ongoing legislative gridlock, and this vehicle led to the bill he signed today. Earlier this year, the Governor suspended legislative salaries and refused to accept his own salary until pension reform was sent to his desk.

“Illinois is moving forward,” Governor Quinn said. “This is a serious solution to address the most dire fiscal challenge of our time. I applaud House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, Senator Kwame Raoul, Senator Daniel Biss, Representative Elaine Nekritz, Representative Darlene Senger, members of the conference committee, and legislators from both parties who made this day possible. Working together, we will continue to build a brighter future for the people of Illinois.”

Sponsored by Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1 will eliminate the state’s unfunded pension liability and fully stabilize the systems to ensure retirement security for employees who have faithfully contributed to the systems. All four leaders worked tirelessly to negotiate and pass this legislation.

“The bill would not have passed without me. I was convinced that standing fast for substantial savings, clear intent and an end to unaffordable annual raises would result in a sound plan that will meet all constitutional challenges,” Speaker Madigan said.

“I applaud the Governor for prioritizing this issue,” Senate President Cullerton said. “I look forward to working with him and all legislative leaders to ensure that we continue on this path of fiscal leadership and bipartisan cooperation.”

“With today’s bill signing we have staved off a greater crisis,” Leader Durkin said. “I am proud many of the significant components are Republican ideas generated by the conference committee, and my predecessor through Senate Bill 1. We should place value into Fitch Ratings’ initial comments viewing our actions as positive and I am confident this law will withstand a court challenge and feel it is a major victory for Illinois taxpayers.”

“This is a major step forward in putting Illinois on the path to financial recovery,” Leader Radogno said. “It is the result of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, after a great deal of debate and discussions. It will demonstrate to the credit rating agencies and job creators that we are serious about turning Illinois around. This is not the only step we need to take to get Illinois back on track. But it is a significant step at a time when doing nothing would only make our problems worse. I’m proud of the bipartisan effort and its result. Now we need to build on this momentum.”

Under the new law, the state will adopt an actuarially sound funding schedule that requires level payments and achieves 100 percent funding no later than the end of fiscal year 2044. To prevent future governors and legislatures from repeating the same behavior that helped create the pension crisis, the law includes a funding guarantee, giving retirement systems the right to go to court if the state fails to make the required payment to the pension fund.

Under the new law, there will be no reductions in the pension checks going out to current retirees. The law will also minimize the impact on the lower-earning, longer-serving employees. There will continue to be Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA); however, they will grow at a slower rate. For most employees, the COLA will be adjusted from the current 3 percent annually compounding increases that are unsustainable to a new formula based on years of service that includes protections for lower-earning, longer-serving employees.

For example, under the new law, a 65-year-old retired state conservation worker with 20 years of service receiving a $17,000 state pension will see that grow to about $22,000 over 10 years. Prior to the law, that would have grown to about $22,400 over 10 years.
Under the new law, current active employees will see COLA pauses every other year upon retirement, with the number of pauses determined by current age. The law also reduces the amount of money current employees pay into their pensions by one percent.

In addition, pensionable salary will now be capped at the greater of the Tier 2 salary cap ($109,971 for 2013), the employee’s current salary, or the employee’s salary at the end of an existing collective bargaining agreement. The cap will increase over time, based on the consumer price index (CPI). There will also be graduated increases in retirement age based on the age of the employee, with a maximum increase of five years. The bill also creates an optional 401(k)-style defined contribution plan that will be available for up to 5 percent of Tier 1 employees. Senate Bill 1 goes into effect on June 1, 2014.

Since taking the oath of office, Governor Pat Quinn has made pension reform his top priority in order to restore fiscal stability to Illinois. Unlike his predecessors, he made the full pension payment each year. In May 2009, Governor Quinn established the Pension Modernization Task Force, which laid the foundation for future reform efforts. In 2010, despite intense opposition, he signed into law sweeping pension reform for new hires to save taxpayers billions of dollars.

In January 2012, the Governor convened a pension reform working group to develop a comprehensive solution. Three months later, Governor Quinn proposed a comprehensive pension reform plan that erased the unfunded liability, and refused to sign any legislation that didn’t meet that standard. The Governor also released several studies on the dire impact of pension inaction on education and launched an online campaign to raise awareness about the pension squeeze and the urgent need for reform.

\In June 2013, the Governor proposed a conference committee as a vehicle to break legislative gridlock between the two chambers. He asked the conference committee to forge a compromise that provided 100 percent funding for the systems, which ultimately became the legislation he signed today.

In addition, Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1961 today. Sponsored by Speaker Madigan and Senator William R. Haine (D-Alton), the bill clarifies that the Attorney General will represent the pension systems in any court proceedings, except in cases where the systems are seeking to force the state to make funding payments. The new law takes effect immediately.

* From the We Are One Illinois coalition…

“Governor Pat Quinn has given hundreds of thousands of working and retired teachers, nurses, police, caregivers, first responders, and others no alternative but to seek justice for retirement security through the judicial system. Contrary to his belief, every Illinois citizen loses today.

“It didn’t have to be this way. Bipartisan majorities in both chambers could have passed a much fairer, legal, negotiated solution - with real, substantial savings - in Senate Bill 2404.

“Instead, leading politicians and their followers chose to violate their oaths of office, trample on the Illinois Constitution, and willfully ignore the plain letter of the law. In abandoning their constitutional duties, they’ve voted to slash the retirement benefits of senior citizens and working families by one-third or more.

“Senate Bill 1 is attempted pension theft, and it’s illegal. Once overturned, its purported savings will evaporate, and the state’s finances and pension systems will be left in worse shape.

“Our coalition has been consistently in contact with our attorneys, and today we directed them to prepare to file suit. We will challenge SB 1 as violating the constitution and ask for a stay of the legislation’s implementation pending a ruling on its constitutionality.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


144 Comments
  1. - Norseman - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    Who is starting the pool on when the lawsuit gets filed.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    (Two lawyers look at each other)

    Race ya?


  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    ““The bill would not have passed without me,” said MJM. He’s really changed, hasn’t he?


  4. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    And so it begins…..


  5. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    ===He’s really changed, hasn’t he?===

    Yep. The last year or so he’s really done some uncharacteristic things. This bold grab at credit for passing pension reform is just the latest in a long line of examples.


  6. - Raising Kane - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    MJM…where did you go??


  7. - sparky791 - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:38 pm:

    And now the fun begins. I expect some of bill will be tossed and some will stay. Do not see in any way shape or form that can be made to those already retired.


  8. - Chi - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    Madigan’s comments are so weird, especially when coupled with his comments taking credit for the compromises. It’s obviously deliberate. Is he:
    Taking the fall for other Democrats?
    Trying to bring GOP voters into the fold?
    Trying to make sure Quinn doesn’t get credit?

    Probably something else I haven’t thought of…


  9. - reformer - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:40 pm:

    All the self-congratulations about making the pension system solvent reminds me of 1995, the last time the Governor and the General Assembly enacted what they called THE solution to the pension problem. It wasn’t until years later we understood how that law actually aggravated the unfunded liability, giving us the unfunded liability and the backloaded payments we have today. How long will it take to grasp the ramifications of this one?


  10. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    IMO … the first press release contained, on average, one mis-statement per paragraph.

    But it will sure sound good to the public until the bill is tossed out by the courts.


  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    Norseman,

    I don’t think we can all pick “today” or “tomorrow”


  12. - anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    it’s about the supremes


  13. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    Several months ago, Capitol Fax had a series of pieces about Madigan and his stating that he “knows how the Supreme Court judges would vote”. I think he is reminding the SC judges of that quote.
    To quote Bill Cosby “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out”. I believe that’s Madigan’s motto.


  14. - dave - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    **”The bill would not have passed without me,” said MJM.**

    Anyone else think that this is just part of his very strong dislike of Henry Bayer? Kind of a “Henry, see what happens why you f*&^ with me”


  15. - Norseman - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    === “The bill would not have passed without me,” said MJM. ===

    So sayeth the shepherd! So sayeth the flock!


  16. - Former Merit Comp Slave - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:49 pm:

    I’m waiting patiently for Rich’s take on Madigan’s radical change of character recently. I know when we find out the reasons we’re all going to say, “ah now I understand”


  17. - anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    Since the suit will have to start out in the circuit courts, it will be interesting to see which forum the plaintiffs select.


  18. - Chi - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    Ha- I guess it’s possible he’s directing his comments to the Supremes, but that would mean his thinking is “If the Supremes know I wanted the bill passed, then they’ll find it constitutional. If they doubt that I wanted it passed, or if they think I wanted it passed but overturned, then they will overturn it.”

    That thinking would take some chutzpah, even for someone as powerful as the Speaker.


  19. - Griz - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    When will the checks for the 1 percent reductions be in the mail.


  20. - Downstater - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:54 pm:

    My face book page has lots of public employees furious at Quinn signing this bill. All the local legislators voted no. Quinn gets all the blame.


  21. - Soccertease - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    It’s easy to pat yourself on the back. It’s also easy for the SC to kick them in the butt.


  22. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    @dave - Its’s taunting of both Henry Bayer AND Bruce Rauner for making him an issue in the governor’s race.

    It’s also some “U Mad bro?” trolling of other people he’s tangled with or taken fire from or been snickered at by this year like Andy Shaw, the Trib edit board, Chuck Goudie, and every cell phone owner on earth.


  23. - walkinfool - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    Is there something in the water down there causing unlikely behavior?

    One never knows all of what Madigan is doing.

    I had been thinking MJM is slowly rounding out his legacy.

    This statement is so blatant, and untypical for him, that I am now leaning toward his taking the heat for some legislators and even Quinn. Madigan is not above instructing key Dem candidates to run specifically against him, if that’s what it takes to win their districts.

    Perhaps he just feels like screwing with reporters and commenters this week.


  24. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:59 pm:

    So if Quinn was put on earth to solve the state pension mess, is he now going to leave? Why run for reelection?


  25. - cover - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    = Since the suit will have to start out in the circuit courts, it will be interesting to see which forum the plaintiffs select. =

    I can’t imagine that the lawsuit would be filed anywhere other than Sangamon County. A circuit judge serving there would be at serious risk of non-retention if he/she didn’t rule in the plaintiffs’ favor and stay the bill’s implementation.

    Rich, what’s the over/under on when the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of pension reform?


  26. - foster brooks - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    The litigation needs to start before July 1st. If the courts let this law stay in effect while it is being litigated , it could spell trouble


  27. - Ruby - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    This pension bill is all about the 2014 state election and keeping the Democrats in power.


  28. - bobby brown - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:05 pm:

    sorry,but if you noticed rich does not speak negative of the honorable mjm…hmmmmmmmmmmm dont hold your breath


  29. - Easy E - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    Now this looks like a job for me so everybody just follow me
    ‘Cause we need a little controversy,
    ‘Cause it feels so empty without me…

    Testing “Attention Please” feel the tension soon as someone mentions me
    here’s my 10 cents my 2 cents is free
    A nuisance, who sent, you sent for me?


  30. - shore - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    Perhaps the ultimate perk of end of career for longtime politicians is the public buildings/facilities that get named after them. Durbin, Richard M, and Mike Madigan probably have them coming at this point but I’m not informed enough to hazard to guess which buildings/bridges/facilities they would get named after them.


  31. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Hey, BB, bite me.

    http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/miller/23484561-452/miller-petulant-madigan-getting-thrown-off-his-game.html


  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    - shore -,

    MJM’s, that’s easy.

    The Michael J. Madigan Building, housing … the State Board of Elections.


  33. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    cover - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    Sangamon County isn’t a lock, as shown by the trial level decision against the retirees in “Maag”.


  34. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    MJM’s self praise reminds me of another Chicagoan, Rickey Henderson who said— “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time,” from on-field ceremony moments after breaking Brock’s career stolen-base record.


  35. - Huggybunny - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    What are the chances this will go as far as the U.S. Supreme Court? Madigan may have some of the IL Supreme judges, and for those he doesn’t, I would think they would be incensed at his insinuating that he does. I’d like to think the IL Supremes will judge according to contract law and not politics, but have pretty much lost all hope of anything fair/constitutional coming out of this.


  36. - Sangamo Sam - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    @shore 3:08pm

    If you ask a retiree about MJM it’s probably that little room down the hall.


  37. - anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    If the circuit court holds the law unconstitutional, there is automatic direct review in the Illinois Supreme Court without the need to have review by an intermediate Appellate Court. If the circuit court were to uphold the law, it would ordinarily be reviewed by the intermediate Appellate Court. However, either party could ask for a certificate of importance to allow bypass of the Appellate Court. As for timing, who knows about the trial court. If the State wants to put on a police powers dog and pony show in the trial court, it might drag it out longer because the trial court would need to hold hearings for submission of evidence. Once it gets to the Illinois Supreme court, the typical case takes about a year from granting of petition for leave to appeal to briefing to argument to decision.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    Hey, - bobby brown -,

    Open your eyes, read, and them come back with “not speaking negative of the honorable mjm…” and see how it flies with those who do read.

    Dope.


  39. - Huggybunny - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    @Sangamo Sam - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    If you ask a retiree about MJM it’s probably that little room down the hall.

    I was leaning more towards a sewage recycling plant building..I’ll let you figure out why, I don’t want to get banned.


  40. - Ghost - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    Just a side comment.

    We shoudl all be afraid if the court upholds this law. Consider these two points: First, they blatanlty did not change the judicial retirment plan, as a payoff to the judges to get their support. If we are in a state of dire police powers fiscal eemrgency, how can we say that one plan is ok to leave alone… maybe two plans could be left alone then… say SRS and judges.

    Second, the constitution for the State has language placed in it to prevent this very act. The State had an opportunity to change the constitution, but didn’t. If we allow our State consitution to be altered merely by passing a law, then the whole thing is subject to change at any time.

    Third, if this change is upheld in spite of the consitution, what keeps them from changeing it again and again… everytime the legislator wants money for something else they can just legislate a greater and greater reduction/taking of vested retirment plans.

    What if the legislature passed a law saying they were not going to pay any of the outstanding bills to the State for goods and services already recieved? Would that be ok? after all, they could decalre a fiscal emergency and use their police powers to just claim an uncompensated taking.

    And lastly, how is this not an unlawful seizure of property? under the US constitution the State government can take property of another, but not without compensation. If money owed to osmone is not property, then no mor fiscal problems, we will just take whatever the State needs and write off having to pay it becuase its too expensive.


  41. - Old Guy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    “Unlike his predecessors, he made the full pension payment each year.”

    By selling pension bonds in 2009 and 2011.


  42. - anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:31 pm:

    Another interesting question will be the copycat pension cuts. Do they hop on the bandwagon as soon as they can or do the other entities (e.g. City of Chicago) hold off and let the State assume the brunt of the litigation costs?


  43. - James the Intolerant - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    There is plenty of blame to go around, but Madigan was also there for all those unfunded years. Taxpayers of the state received improved roads, spent money on schools, etc,; when that money should’ve gone to fund pensions.


  44. - Sgt Schultz - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    East Central Illinois - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    Several months ago, Capitol Fax had a series of pieces about Madigan and his stating that he “knows how the Supreme Court judges would vote”. I think he is reminding the SC judges of that quote.

    - Chi - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    Ha- I guess it’s possible he’s directing his comments to the Supremes, but that would mean his thinking is “If the Supremes know I wanted the bill passed, then they’ll find it constitutional. If they doubt that I wanted it passed, or if they think I wanted it passed but overturned, then they will overturn it.”

    Agree. Say it loudly in the press and there are no worries about secret recordings.


  45. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:36 pm:

    Huggybunny - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    Depends on which way the ISC comes down. Here’s my best guess at the moment (yeah, I’m waffling a bit):

    If the ISC agreeds to let this stand in apparent violation of simple contract law, then it’s pretty much guaranteed it will make it’s way to SCOTUS. We’ll hear some state’s rights versus contract law arguments and could set some new precident on contract law limitations, which I believe no one wants to see.

    If the ISC partially overturns and exercises the severability option, then the “new employee” and “voluntary choice” portions will survive and the non-severable COLA / Funding Guarantee / Bond guarantee will get tossed out.

    Ask me again after the Maag ruling is issued; we’ll have a better idea then on where the current ISC might stand on the this bill. Even then, we probably won’t know the answer to this question for several years.

    Here’s a couple of variations of an applicable quote about justice for you to ponder while we wait:

    Slow but sure moves the might of the gods - Euripides

    Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; / Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all. - Longfellow


  46. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:36 pm:

    I finally found out what the “J” in MJM stands for: just-too-rich.


  47. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Anon 336p = langhorne


  48. - lovecraft - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    Illinois supposedly has one of the strongest protection clauses related to state workers’ benefits present and future in its constitutions. If the Supreme Court in Illinois thumbs its nose at this, it will be open season on state employees across the country (not that it isn’t already.)


  49. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    ===let the State assume the brunt of the litigation costs===

    Not an issue. Never an issue. It goes with the governing territory.


  50. - lovecraft - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:40 pm:

    And, by the way, aren’t the Illinois leaders just the cutest things when they gather round to congratulate themselves on what forward looking statesmen/women they are?


  51. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:43 pm:

    - cover - By some strange quirk of fate Sangamon County cases of such public interest always seem to end up before an Associate judge, not a Circuit Judge.


  52. - South Springfield Shoplifter - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    If there is a federal question regarding impairment of contracts, why can’t the lawsuit be filed in federal court and bypass the state courts altogether? Not that the U.S. Supreme Court is a labor-friendly venue, but I’m just asking as a procedural matter if this can be done.


  53. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    My best educated guess is that two lawsuits will be filed tomorrow morning. One state and one federal–covering all bases.


  54. - WhoKnew - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    Norseman - That “So sayeth the shepherd! So sayeth the flock!” had me rollin’!!

    As to the Lawsuit date Pool - I’ll take next Tuesday @ 3:00p.m (It will take a little while to drive to Scott County!)


  55. - Jaded - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    Yea, he kinda did the same thing for same sex marriage. He had that press conference with Harris where Harris buried him with praise. Even in that instance though he had Harris say most of the nice things about him. Really never heard him talk about himself like this in the press.

    My thought is that although most of us believe he plugs himself in every night to recharge, he is human, and his skin might be getting a little thin from his super high negative name id. Maybe he has decided to wage his own positive Mike Madigan campaign. Just a thought.

    Sure beats sneaking down a fire escape and peeling out of a gravel parking lot.


  56. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    ===He’s really changed, hasn’t he?===
    He made this a question of math and has enough lemmings in that caucus to get 60 at the drop of a hat. He wants cover for nearly everything and that is what is difficult.
    The look at me stance is unusual but lets face facts he is passed his prime and is helplessly behind in a 24 hour news cycle / social media world.


  57. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    South Springfield Shoplifter - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    Shouldn’t need to go to that level to resolve it. Two contract clauses in the IL Constitution should be enough.

    ARTICLE I, SECTION 16. EX POST FACTO LAWS AND IMPAIRING CONTRACTS

    No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts or making an irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, shall be passed.

    ARTICLE XIII, SECTION 5. PENSION AND RETIREMENT RIGHTS

    Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which
    shall not be diminished or impaired.


  58. - anon - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    Is Lisa Madigan really taking on the defense of this law? Or is this getting farmed out to outside counsel.


  59. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    On the other side of the world today, Nelson Mandela passes away. And here in Illinois we have MJM telling us all how great he himself is.

    What a contrast!


  60. - Albert... - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:58 pm:

    Yes…. Pat Quinn signed the Pension Bill…. Minutes afterward A notice was emailed out to every current state employee. Class Act… Not.


  61. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 3:58 pm:

    “On the other side of the world today, Nelson Mandela passes away. And here in Illinois we have MJM telling us all how great he himself is”

    That is a rather silly comment


  62. - Demoralized - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    ==What are the chances this will go as far as the U.S. Supreme Court?==

    IMO, zilch. The US Supreme Court isn’t going to take up a state case like this.


  63. - Dude Abides - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    Will a judge grant a stay on the new pension law until which time that the high court rules on whether or not it’s constitutional?


  64. - Mason born - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    RNUG @3:36

    DO you think the 1% reduction in contributions would be tied to COLA diminshment? I.E. could we end up with a 3% employee contribution for the same benefits prior to the law?

    For that matter think the part declaring pensions to be nonnegotiable in contract talks stands?


  65. - BehindTheScenes - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    Remember, we are still awaiting the SC’s decision on whether or not the “benefits of which
    shall not be diminished or impaired” language in Article XIII, Section 5 actually means anything insofar as taking money from the pension annuity to pay for health coverage - in many cases something guaranteed to retires.


  66. - Salukidog - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    The Speaker does not have new IL Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman in his pocket . . . . .that is for certain. Not sure how this will play out in the courts, but there are still some extraordinarily honest, capable, classy public servants left, and she exemplifies what is best about those who are left.


  67. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    ===Will a judge grant a stay===

    The judiciary is not like the legislature in that it is very difficult to predict what any given judge will do. Just wait for it.


  68. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:10 pm:

    Mason born,

    I have to admit that once I tied the three big issues together as non-severable, I quit chasing all the cross-references identified on the last two pages.

    I just went back and specifically looked to see if the new (lower) contribution rate schedule is part of the non-severable group. It is. So if the COLA change gets tossed, the lower contribution rate goes with it.


  69. - Voicefromthedarkness - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:13 pm:

    The previous comment about new IL Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman is spot on. The Speaker may have played kingmaker in many appointments at all levels in the Judiciary, but most certainly not hers.

    She is but one vote . . . . but she is representative of all that is NOT Chicago style politics at its worst.


  70. - Mason born - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    RNUG

    Well that is probably for the best. Although i have to admit to looking forward to some Schadenfreude if the legislature had to go back to restore contributions if the new COLA gets the boot especially if Quinn had to sign it.


  71. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:16 pm:

    The Speaker wakes every morning, glides to his bathroom mirror, and admires what he sees. After a minute or so, he says, “god I love me”….and his day begins.


  72. - Bemused - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    It has been said that MJM plays chess while others play checkers, so I guess it will be sometime before we catch on to his end game. It is about time they put something out there to test the waters. MJM and the boys say this is the best they could do, okay we all knew where this was going some time ago. Not being a State Retiree my dog in this fight is how much of this will come out of my pocket via taxes. My feeling has always been the courts will say you cannot renege on what has been earned but you may change what can be earned in the future. Of course the Joker in the deck is how the Supremes interpret the constitution. My bet is on my taxes going up. I personally blame this on the GA who have robbed the piggy bank for years knowing they be gone before the theft was noticed.


  73. - N'ville - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:18 pm:

    Quinn doesn’t have the class to mention Senator Brady?


  74. - TribaGoons - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    Ain’t no way in the world the Tribune will acknowledge Madigan for this accomplishment. They are on a full time mission to destroy him.


  75. - Raymond - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    === My thought is that although most of us believe he plugs himself in every night to recharge, he is human, and his skin might be getting a little thin from his super high negative name id. Maybe he has decided to wage his own positive Mike Madigan campaign. ===

    I look forward to Rich’s explanation of MJM’s decidedly uncharacteristic self-praise. The thing is, he didn’t need to make these comments pointing attention to himself; even before he made the comments, the media spent a solid week reporting that he was conducting “shuttle diplomacy” between the parties and that he ultimately was responsible for brokering the deal. That he would expend energy to point the spotlight on himself, when the spotlight was already pointed on him, just doesn’t make any sense.


  76. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    To everyone asking about a stay, take a breath and look at a calender.

    The bill’s effective date is June 1, 2014. Worse case, you start paying less for the COLA after that date (although you might have to make up the missed 1% later if that portion of the bill is tossed). Most the people likely to retire in the next year or two are effectively grandfathered in based on their age on June 1. Other than causing some people to decide to head out the door this December, from a practical standpoint there isn’t much of an immediate effect.

    The first AAI after the effective date is January 1, 2015. Maybe we only get the lower AAI then; not the end of the world because it’s a minor impariment, relatively speaking, in the early years. By that time, we will hopefully have a (preliminary) lower court ruling which, if favorable to the retirees, could include an injunction against enforcement while on appeal. Whatever happens, one of the sides will appeal to the ISC for the final word.

    Then, as others have pointed out, we could sit for another year or so. Once there is a final ISC determination, there will have to be a procedure to straighten out whatever payments need to be made.

    I’m going to repeat this quote about Justice from an earlier post:

    Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; / Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all. - Longfellow


  77. - second street - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    SB 1313 (ended free health care for retirees) was effective July 1 2012. 17 months later and no ruling yet from the court. Retirees may get the 3% for 2014 and 2015 before the court rules.


  78. - facts are stubborn things - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    The State will need to make the police powers argument. Yes, they will agree that the constituion is clear, but no amendment is absolute. Freedom of speach — yet you can not yell fire in a theater. The state will likely argue for the court to allow the state releif so as to deal with a crisis. The court may accept some of the pension law (new employees, and even those working now)under the police powers argument, but can not imagine the COLA change standing. The union will, among many arguments, make the case that if the state can create a crisis by not funding the pensions systm then what on earth is the purpose or effect of the 5th amendment. The courts have already ruled that they will not mandate the state fund at any particular level. I think the SC will say that funding is the GA and Exectutive Branch’s busniness but at the end of the day you must pay the benifits earned. State…figure it out!


  79. - cover - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    RNUG, it seems curious to me that the retirement age increase, the cap on pensionable salaries, and the change in the SURS money-purchase rate are not part of the non-severable group, yet the optional defined contribution plan is non-severable.

    Does anyone have any insight as to why these 3 changes - each of which could be argued as a diminishment of pension benefits - were held out of the list of non-severables? And could this offer the courts an option to invalidate the entire bill, not just the non-severable items?


  80. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:30 pm:

    second street - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    We’ll get it for 2014. I wouldn’t count on 2015 unless a stay is issued.


  81. - Sunshine - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:32 pm:

    It is truly sad to see MJM patting himself on the back and stealing credit….it is sad indeed.

    When you spend years and years looking the other way and essentially adding to, if not outright helping create the problem, then to blatantly make that statement, simply undermines any credibility he had.

    A great day for Quinn, a sad day for Michael J. Madigan.


  82. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:35 pm:

    cover - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    I haven’t tried to figure out how they decided what was to be tied together and what could stand on it’s own. Don’t need the headache.

    If I was guessing, they scored each piece by it’s savings and figured they would try for some of the smaller stuff surviving if they lost the big one (COLA).

    Or maybe it’s part of a grand scheme to see which parts survive as a roadmap to future changes. Now that I could see MJM doing …


  83. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:44 pm:

    The beating MJM has taken over the years from some in the media seems to have started to get under his skin. That’s understandable. It would me, too.

    Maybe he’s at the age where he’s thinking about legacy. He should. It’s substantial. Remarkable, actually. He’s been the brightest banana in the bunch for a long time, and we’re lucky to know him. The gangsters would have robbed us blind without him.

    He’s a tough guy who has been an honest player in a historically corrupt arena. And he’s done a lot of good, with the muscle he’s had.

    Despite what the simple-minded gasbags say, he has never been a dictator. That’s not possible, not with the multiple power centers in this big, rich, diverse state.

    Let’s be honest. Big multi-national corporations have always had a lot of pull in this state. Robber-baron utilities have always had a lot of pull in this state. The Mafia has always had a lot of pull in this state, on a bipartisan basis. The morons at Tribune Co. — newspaper, radio, TV — have always had a lot of pull in this state.

    It takes a smart, tough dude to mess with those gangsters. And Madigan is a very smart, very tough guy.

    Madigan has always tread carefully in the Illinois barnyard, but I don’t think he’s ever stepped in it.

    He’s always been influential in the service of the possible, and mostly progressive, as progressive as a senior citizen Irish Catholic parochial school boy from Midway can be, lol.

    He ain’t Jane Addams, but he sure as hell ain’t Len Small or Blago or Rauner or DeLeo or Fast Eddie or any of the other countless cheap hustlers who made their fortunes screwing the Illinois public, either.

    He has a weakness. Much of the bad p.r. in the media over the years could have been avoided, I think, if he had been willing to suffer fools gladly.

    The divas in Chicago TV and punditry have been stung by his contempt for them, and they pay it back.

    That was a miscalculation by MJM. He could have run circles around those guys. He’s a very witty, erudite, charming guy — when he doesn’t think you’re a self-important idiot, lol.

    I can’t recall him ever ducking a Charlie Wheeler or a Mike Lawrence, people he respected. I can tell you from experience he was very accessible and candid to my crew of young earnest reporter interns at Sangamon State.

    I can also tell you that he thought Andy Shaw was an idiot — in the 80s, lol.

    As to his relationship with media, I think he was also insulted by the morons who saw his every move as part of a 12-year-conspiracy to elect Lisa as governor.

    Have any of those fools issued a mea culpa as to how wrong they were about the “Lisa Conspiracy?” They’ve been cashing checks on it for years.

    And I’m sure, as a father, he was angered by the misogynistic “Princess Lisa” stuff from the likes
    of Kass.

    If any grown man was as vulgar and stupid enough to insult my daughter as a “princess,” they’d be in the hospital and I’d be in jail. Happily, in jail.

    I’ve been around the block a few times, been to a couple of state fairs, a rodeo and a picnic, and MJM is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. Such discipline. Such a work ethic. Way smart. And, in the art of the possible, a great progressive in a very reactionary state.

    He has a long history. But this is my favorite. When the chips were, and the outcome was unclear, he went on the floor of the House, quoted Pope Francis and said “who am I to judge?”

    Good on you, MJM.


  84. - Sangamo Sam - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:46 pm:

    @Bemused - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    “It has been said that MJM plays chess while others play checkers”

    I’ve heard that chess analogy for some time now. Playing chess means that someone possessing some skill is on the other side of the table challenging each move. I’d say MJM is less like Bobby Fischer and more like Vito Corleone.


  85. - Wensicia - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:46 pm:

    “The bill would not have passed without me.”

    In other words, “I rule in this state, don’t ever forget that.”


  86. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    “**”The bill would not have passed without me,” said MJM.**

    Anyone else think that this is just part of his very strong dislike of Henry Bayer? Kind of a “Henry, see what happens why you f*&^ with me””

    IMO, political version of talking smack.

    MJM is like a player who makes a big time play (in a string of plays), then pats his own shoulders as to say “It’s all right here”, with the unspoken mannerisms of both “What you going to do about it” and “Let’s see what you got”.

    A Big Time player who comes up big. Like him or not.

    Just a thought, MJM likely just framed next year’s election cycle. Not too shabby. Now we get to see how quickly the different players can adjust.

    Masterful.


  87. - Marty - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:48 pm:

    Madigan didn’t deliver any more votes this time around than the first time SB-1 passed in the House. The big change in votes were in the Senate. This is Cullerton’s baby. He initially wanted both bills passed as a package, but settled for pass one, let the SC finds it unconstitutional, then pass the other(something closer to his). They all can then blame the SC for keeping the income tax increase, and get happily re-elected. I only hope he got his promise in writing. Oh wait, written guarantees don’t matter.


  88. - Mason born - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    RNUG

    –Or maybe it’s part of a grand scheme to see which parts survive as a roadmap to future changes. Now that I could see MJM doing–

    I think you hit the nail on the head there. I read this the other day and i think Cullerton was letting the cat out of the bag.

    “I think the bill has serious constitutional problems, but now it’s in front of the court and they can decide,” Cullerton said.” From SJR.


  89. - Jack Handy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    I think people are a little overly optimistic that this will be thrown out. I think the court will go way out of their way to find a case, a phrase, a word, a letter or a punctuation mark that will let them justify this as constitutional. The court will not want to overturn something this big. I know others disagree but I say this is 80/20 it is upheld.


  90. - catrike - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

    Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson once suggested that the U.S. constitution is not a suicide pact. Some here apparently think the Illinois constitution is just that. I hope they are wrong.


  91. - reformer - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:14 pm:

    == Madigan didn’t deliver any more votes this time around thatn the first time SB-1 passed. ==

    There were seven (7) fewer GOP votes in the House for this bill than the first time. Madigan’s Dems made up the difference, with two to spare. So Madigan did crank up his vote.


  92. - Diogenes in DuPage - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:30 pm:

    –I know others disagree but I say this is 80/20 it is upheld.–

    I fear Jack Handy is correct. And this is just the first pension bill. I believe that the Cost Shift to universities and public school districts will be passed before June 2015, too. Then MJM and the mushrooms will have lots of money freed up in the budget to do all they want to do. Some of it might even benefit the state’s taxpayers.


  93. - Rusty618 - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:40 pm:

    “Under the new law, there will be no reductions in the pension checks going out to current retirees”.

    Does that include people who retire before June 1. 2014? If so, there will be tons of folks bailing out…including me!


  94. - Rod - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:40 pm:

    Speaker Madigan spoke the truth, the Conference Committee report as its is written, for better or worse, would have never have passed without him. I don’t think there are many people who work in and around the Assembly who would disagree with his self assessment, many are however surprised that he proclaimed what was obvious in such a triumphant manner.

    I honestly also believe there were some Democrats who voted no who effectively went to the Speaker for absolution in relation to their vote due to fear of their own electorate and the Speaker accepted that. Haven’t we seen that before?

    I also noted in several speeches made by Democrats on the House floor they effectively asked for forgiveness from retired state workers and current union members for voting up the report saying it was better than having the funds default. In particular I recall Linda Chapa LaVia’s comments. I did not listen to the Senate debate at all and the tweets did not pick up on those comments in the Senate if they were made.


  95. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:46 pm:

    Profiles in Courage: “The governor signed the bill during a private ceremony in the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, a contrast to a large, public rally he held about a month ago at the University of Illinois-Chicago when he signed a gay marriage bill.”

    The Governor even conducted a hit-and-run lighting of the JRTC Christmas tree on Monday. No advance notice. Held at 3:30 rather than the traditional noon ceremony.

    Sounds like someone who’s afraid of something.


  96. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:55 pm:

    Rusty618 - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:40 pm:

    It’s true there won’t be any reductions to the current level of any pension check because of this bill. But there also won’t be the same level of AAI (COLA) increases that were codified in State statute and, in the cases of TRS, SURS, GARS & JRS, paid for with a specific payroll deduction while working.

    What was left unsaid was that, due to SB1313 and the latest AFSCME contract, retirees health insurance premiums that were supposed to be free (SERS, some SURS) will be increased next July 1, either from 1% to 2% or from 2% to 4%.


  97. - Champ Kind - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 5:55 pm:

    When this does make it to the ISC, I wonder how Justices Burke, Theis, Kilbride and Freeman may vote on a piece of Madigan legislation? Why even bother sending this to the ISC? This law is signed, sealed and delivered. Case closed.


  98. - Pacman - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:25 pm:

    Since the Illinois constitution appears to be as useful as toilet paper, they should continue to disregard it and pass a progressive tax.


  99. - Pacman - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:31 pm:

    On a less sarcastic note, I don’t see how all are part of this bill is not thrown out. It will be hard for the ISC to ignore past rulings, the plain language of the constitution, and the intent of the framers of the constitution. Let alone ignore basic contract law.


  100. - Jimbo - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:32 pm:

    I just don’t see how the AAI paid for by a 1% deduction while working can be taken away from retirees. Additionally, I paid for a pension allowing me to retire at a specific time. My pension is most definitely diminished by taking five years off of it.


  101. - Doctor in the House - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:34 pm:

    Running down fire escapes…arguing with his daughter in the press…falling prey to a neophyte at Metra over a campaign worker… The Doctor in the House thinks there is more wrong here than just an indulged ego. Grabbing credit is the least of the recent foibles.


  102. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:39 pm:

    I realize this is Illinois and a lot of you think the fix is in, but stop and think it through a bit.

    Once you become an ISC justice, the only place left to go up is the federal system and, unless you’re in the running for SCOTUS, it’s pretty much a step down in terms of power and prestige. The usual path is to reach ISC, hang around to get your turn at Chief Justice, then, if you’re ready to go, retire. Otherwise you hang around some more until the workload gets to be too much.

    MJM may have helped put a judge on the ISC initially, and maybe the judge owes MJM, but MJM can’t directly remove a judge from the ISC. Once they are there, they are there for 10 years at a time, and their re-election is a simple “shall x be retained?” question. It’s not the same as running a campaign for re-election. Effectively speaking, once you make it, you are there for life or until you choose to step down. For the first time in their political life, a judge on the ISC is pretty much answerable to no one.

    Yes, a judge could harbor hopes of retiring from the ISC and be “of consul” to any number of prestigious law firms, and in that case, MJM’s backing might help. But there’s no guarantee that such help would be needed. Big law firms like to have people like former Governors, Senators and Supreme Court Justices on their letterhead, and pay big money for that privilege.

    Practically speaking, once they reach that level, a ISC Justice is free to do whatever they want on court decisions.


  103. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:44 pm:

    RNUG is right. Tone it down.


  104. - DuPage - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 6:59 pm:

    @Diogenes in DuPage, there is one big distinction between this pension cut bill and the upcoming “cost shift bill”. Nothing in the Illinois constitution would prohibit “cost shift”.


  105. - Walter Mitty - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 7:00 pm:

    I understand all the praise for Madigan I suppose, but if someone came to your house, stole your TV and sold it back for half the price is that a deal? He was part of the problem that led to a diminished contract, upheld or not. Explain all the high praise to our children that will have to pay for this later. Higher taxes, cost shift…. And frankly, those in the system now, like me, I never believed it will be there in 20 years. I believe it more now. I don’t see the personal approval, or frankly many others. Kevin Tredeau anyone?


  106. - Fed up - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 7:24 pm:

    Has any seen the stat supreme court ruling Jorgensen vs Blagojevich. The supremes said that the judges had to be paid their COLA. The states financial status has no bearing and does not over ride the constitution period. And why is one of Cullerton’s attorneys going back to assist the We Are One coalition in the law suit!!!!!!


  107. - Howardtheduck - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 7:29 pm:

    I can’t help but remember that Cullerton said that he thought this was a matter of businessmen vs public employees and this was not a crisis.


  108. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:12 pm:

    Well the day has finally arrived. Despite any law’s imperfections, it’s Law now. And what an agonizingly long time in coming!

    I expect the Illinois Supreme Court will review the matter thoroughly and competently, as well as expeditiously as feasible (realizing obviusly how much is at stake after all this time and suffering), and despite “knowing” some of those who may have helped to pass the Pension Bill, nevertheless, will earnestly try to do what a majority on the High Court interprets as the right thing and rule the best they can based upon their interpretation of the facts, reality, precedent, and the Constitution…then the chips will finally have fallen where they may on this thing, and we’ll all be able to get on with life in Illinois on OTHer important matters as well, (which MAY include addressing the pension problem in some modified fashion if at least 4 of them see fit–and if not, well, we can beef all we want, but if they find that it stands on the whole, “it is what it is” then)…!


  109. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:14 pm:

    That was meant to read above, “…realizing obviously….”


  110. - foster brooks - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:24 pm:

    FED UP:
    1. Jorgensen vs Blagojevich
    In reaching this result, we acknowledge that substantial budgetary challenges currently confront the Governor and the General Assembly. The adverse economic conditions facing so many of our fellow citizens have taken an inevitable toll on the state’s treasury. Revenues are not keeping pace. Despite ongoing efforts by the Governor and legislature, shortfalls persist. We do not mean to diminish the seriousness of the situation or appear insensitive to the difficulties faced by our coordinate branches of government. Those difficulties are undeniable, and we are highly cognizant of the need for austerity and restraint in our spending. As administrators of the judiciary, we make every effort to economize whenever and however we can. One thing we cannot do, however, is ignore the Constitution of Illinois.
    This court did not set the salaries judges receive, nor did we make COLAs a component of those salaries. The salaries, including their COLA component, were provided by law in the manner described earlier in this opinion, Now that those salaries have been implemented, the constitution commands that they be paid. No principle of law permits us to suspend constitutional requirements for economic reasons, no matter how compelling those reasons may seem


  111. - Venting - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:25 pm:

    It is painfully obvious that this entire bill is the product of Speaker Madigan. There has been no acknowledgement of the root cause of this situation…the FAILURE of the General Assembly to uphold their obligations and make the mandated contributions. Not only were contributions spent elsewhere but the GA and governors spent the moneys already in the Pension for other pet projects. The face of this pension under-funding is the GA with MJM standing front and center.

    If the GA expects employees and pensioners to accept this “deal” they should step up and introduce legislation that acknowledges that part-time employees should not receive pension benefits and eliminate the GARS and stop pension benefits for all members of the GA, past and present.


  112. - Griz - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:26 pm:

    The issue before us is whether the General Assembly and the Governor violated the Illinois Constitution when they attempted to eliminate the cost-of-living adjustments to judicial salaries provided by law for the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years.   The circuit court declared that they did.   In addition, it ordered the Comptroller to include the cost-of-living adjustments for the 2004 fiscal year in the judges’ paychecks.   The Governor and Comptroller have appealed.   For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


  113. - Dude Abides - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:27 pm:

    I appreciate RNUG’s last response concerning the ISC. He spelled out neatly that it’s just not that easy to replace a SC Justice. I don’t believe that the human condition has deteriorated to the point that there still aren’t a few good men and women of integrity still out there. I don’t know if the entire bill will be thrown out but I think chances are good that major parts of it will. I don’t remember what state it was, maybe Rhode Island but this pension battle has occurred in a few other states and I recall that in one of the states the SC ordered the two sides back to the bargaining table. Who can say how this will end up but I think the ISC fully realizes the ramifications of throwing the Constitution out with the bathwater.


  114. - Griz - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:40 pm:

    This court did not set the salaries judges receive, nor did we make COLAs a component of those salaries.   The salaries, including their COLA component, were provided by law in the manner described earlier in this opinion, Now that those salaries have been implemented, the constitution commands that they be paid.   No principle of law permits us to suspend constitutional requirements for economic reasons, no matter how compelling those reasons may seem.


  115. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:54 pm:

    Can an illinois judge rule on his own pension? any fed judge’s have illinois pensions too?


  116. - Newguy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:55 pm:

    What will be most interesting is if the bond houses decide to raise Illinois’ credit rating during the interim of the law being implemented and the courts hearing the case, which I feel will happen sooner than later. In which the judge will hold a heavy weight against striking down the law. In addition, passing both cuts to pensions and tax breaks to corporations on the same day just was not in good taste gentlemen. You should know better than that.


  117. - Jack Handy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 9:19 pm:

    RNUG, I appreciate and respect your comments here. I actually find myself scanning down the list for your comments only. For arguments sake though, I’d like you to take the State’s side. How you would defend their case?


  118. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 9:26 pm:

    Jack handy

    the answer is the Jorgensen vs Blagojevich Illinois Supreme court ruling


  119. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 9:29 pm:

    the Illinois Supreme court justices would be hippocrites if the law is affirmed


  120. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 10:26 pm:

    Jack Handy - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 9:19 pm:

    Do I get a consulting fee for this one? If I end up losing my full AAI, I’ll need some extra income …

    Honestly, in that situation, my first reaction is to try to get out of having to defend it. Not sure there is a way to really do so; going to be tough. Especially because some of the legislative leaders who passed it have already said they have doubts about it or the previous versions of it (Cullerton’s latest quotes, Madigan’s previous least unconstitutional quotes come to mind). That makes it tough to argue that the people who drafted and passed it believed it was constitutional. Plus the arguments the State presented in the “Maag” appeal have already conceded a lot of what SB0001 is trying to change is protected (remember, that argument was just in front of the ISC a few months back). Finally, the GA’s continuing to spend money on new / expanded programs while claiming a fiscal crisis negates the implied ‘police powers’ assertion. I know, I’m more or less making the plaintiff’s arguments here but it’s necessary to identify the limitations I would have to work within.

    Since I don’t see much wiggle room left given the above, I guess I’d try to focus the defense discussion on the items that are clearly constitutional to save those portions of the bill, and then try a “Hail Mary” argument for the rest of it by digging up one or two obscure decisions (the State or city government hasn’t lost every pension case since 1970, just most of them) that I would try to twist to support the State position.


  121. - No Sense - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 10:39 pm:

    How is Mike Madigan’s Gov.James Thompson,
    Gov.Jim Edgar and all politicians pension going to be affected.


  122. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 10:41 pm:

    3.3 billion a year savings? where is that coming from? another unsubstainable ponzi, that will meet state law guidelines .more retired than working , This is the future of social security only sooner for illinois. let’s open up another tier in the pension so more can pay in. what is this an exculsive club?


  123. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 10:53 pm:

    No Sense - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 10:39 pm:

    Same as everyone else. They’ll only get the 3% AAI on their first $20K - $40K of their pension, depending on their years of service.

    In Madigan’s case, he isn’t retired yet, so the current effect for him would be zero.


  124. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 12:42 am:

    Mason born - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    Sometimes my throw-away lines from my subconscious are more accurate than my reasoned analysis …


  125. - facts are stubborn things - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 8:19 am:

    As I read on the SERS web site, it looks like the new pensino law did not change the 3% yearly compounded COLA on survivor benifits. In SERS if I preceed my wife in death she will recieve 1/2 of my pension. Her pension will at that time start to receive the 3% compounded COLA. Has anyone else read anything on this.


  126. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 8:40 am:

    facts are stubborn things - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 8:19 am:

    Now that you mention it, I remember that little “loophole” was in an earlier version of the bill. In fact, someone took me to task a bit earlier in the year when I pointed it out, in effect suggesting I shut up about it so it wouldn’t get changed. Don’t know if it survived in the final cut; it’s one of those things you tend to skip over unless you are specifically looking for it and I wasn’t looking for it. If SERS says it’s there, I’m sure it is.

    One minor note on the survivor benefit, they have the same year plus wait to get their first AAI just like it was a new pension.


  127. - Dan - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:03 am:

    I don’t know if the rule of 85 for sers has yet been clarified on this blog, but it is addressed on the sers web site. Also state universities annuitant association (suaa.org) has a easy to use spreadsheet posted where you can plug in your own numbers and see the impact year by year for the AAI (cola). They assume a 3% inflation rate.


  128. - facts are stubborn things - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:03 am:

    @RNUG - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 8:40 am:

    =One minor note on the survivor benefit, they have the same year plus wait to get their first AAI just like it was a new pension.=

    No I did not realize that…thanks.


  129. - facts are stubborn things - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:13 am:

    RNUG

    I agree wtih you, that the IL SC will rule without undue pressures or arm twisting. I had the pleasure of knwowing many of the justices for many years and I found them to be, for the most part, a very serious and dedicated bunch. They are at a stage of their lives where they are focusing on things other then personal ambition etc. — for the most part. I beleive they take their positoins and the instiution they are stewards of very seriously. They are human, not machine, but I do have confidence they will render a reasoned decision based on the law, past cases and the facts surrounding this case. I excpect large parts of this law to be thrown out. I bleive the hardest thing to figure out is what the instruction will be. How much guidance do the give etc. Do they send it back with only the parts thrown out and an insturction to start negotiating something that contains or adhears to contract law etc. etc. They may make it realy clear or they may throw parts out but leave a little bit for each side to interput. I would hope, based on how big this is they will write the opinion such that it leaves a clear path.


  130. - Demoralized - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:15 am:

    ==The face of this pension under-funding is the GA with MJM standing front and center. ==

    I know this whole blame Madigan thing is what is in nowadays, but the facts are that there is a lot of culpability to go around as far as diverting money from pensions goes.

    ==There has been no acknowledgement of the root cause of this situation…the FAILURE of the General Assembly to uphold their obligations and make the mandated contributions.==

    While true, I don’t know what the point is of lamenting about this anymore. So somebody acknowledges this. Now what? It makes us all feel better? It’s not an argument against the pension bill.

    ++++++++++++++++

    I think it’s fine to be angry about this, especially if it affects your pension (as it does mine). I’m angry. But the game has moved into the next inning. The bill passed and that is what has to be dealt with now in the proper format, which is the court. Looking back on things isn’t going to change anything, nor is it going to make this bill go away.


  131. - Pete - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:16 am:

    “Governor Pat Quinn has given hundreds of thousands of working and retired teachers, nurses, police, [judges], caregivers, first responders, and others no alternative but to seek justice for retirement security through the judicial system. Contrary to his belief, every Illinois citizen loses today.”

    Are judges impacted? I inserted judges and it changes the quote for me. Thoughs?


  132. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:39 am:

    === Now what? It makes us all feel better? It’s not an argument against the pension bill. ===

    Yes it is. The lawsuit definitely needs to reference the underfunding. One of their major arguments to the court will be the assertion of emergency powers due to the sad state of the state’s budget. The historic underfunding was a concern that resulted in the constitutional guarantee and now an issue counter to the emergency powers argument.


  133. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:47 am:

    “. . . workload gets to be too much.” Most people — even most lawyers — don’t realize how little the Supreme Court Justices actually have to work to get by.


  134. - foster brooks - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 9:59 am:

    I believe justice Thomas gets a pension from the NFL


  135. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    To paraphrase / elaborate on Norseman’s comment …

    One argument needs to be that the GA can’t use the fiscal crisis they created as an excuse to claim that theft is required by the fiscal crisis.

    BTW: if you have any doubt that a “business” mindset is behind the recent actions, (as I noted in an earlier post in another thread) that is the same playbook that private industry has been using for years: artificially run a company into fiscal problems, declare bankruptcy, and dump employee pensions on the PBGC (taxpayers). The only difference here is, instead of dumping it on the taxpayers (they can’t, PBGC doesn’t insure state retirement programs), they are trying to totally eliminate paying for (part of) it.


  136. - Big Bob - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:12 am:

    Consideration for employees is supposedly a 1% reduction in contribution. What is the consideration for retirees?


  137. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    ==Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 13 @ 8:54 pm:
    Can an illinois judge rule on his own pension?==

    If your question is “Can an Illinois judge rule on matters affecting him / her” the answer is yes. Specifically, former Auditor General Robert Cronson found that out.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-10-02/news/9203300214_1_illinois-supreme-court-audits-bar-exam


  138. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    Big Bob - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:12 am:

    The “we really mean it this time” funding guarantee …


  139. - 47th Ward - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    That must have been some holiday party Rich attended last night. Can somebody in Springfield go over to his place and check on him?


  140. - funny guy - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    What is former Senator DeLeo doing these days—I mean besides driving his Bentley down in Florida?


  141. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    47, I think Rich is finally crashing after trying to keep up with Pat Quinn night and Day for the last several years.


  142. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    === The “we really mean it this time” funding guarantee … ===

    Great line!


  143. - reformer - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    WORD
    Thanks for your thoughtful evaluation of MJM’s legacy (so far). You make a number of persuasive points. I’d add to your list that he, more than anyone else, helped to change Illinois from a swing state to a dark blue state. He also helped to write the 1970 constitution.

    On the other hand, I think you give him a pass on his share of responsibiity for the fiscal mess our state is in. Of course others share that responsibility, but no one has been in power longer, or had such complete control of one chamber. (The House stopped being a deliberative chamber in 1983). MJM repeatedly supported shorting the pensions during his tenure as Speaker. In a related matter, he also decided to live with an antiquated state tax system that all but guarantees IL can’t pay its bills, much less provide adequate funding for basic services. It’s true it would’ve taken some political risks to reform our tax system, and maybe he couldn’t have done it, but he hardly tried. There are consequences for being risk-averse, just as there are for taking risks to do what needs to be done.


  144. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 6, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    Anybody catch the Trib edit cartoon regarding the pension bill, comparing public employees to a neutered dog? “Fixed.”

    Gee, I wonder what they really think about you….

    Scroll down to the third one…

    http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-stantis-cartoons-gallery/


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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