* From yesterday…
Several dozen unionized Stroger Hospital employees descended on a Cook County board meeting Wednesday, expressing their displeasure with President Toni Preckwinkle’s pension-reform plan, which is expected to surface soon in Springfield.
As county hospital workers waited their turn to address the board, the echoes of an overflow crowd could be heard chanting “save our pensions” from a hallway outside the boardroom. […]
When asked what her thoughts on the workers concerns were, Preckwinkle said she was obligated to revamp county pensions.
“In 2034 it runs out of money. And then there’s no pension for anybody,” she said.
The county’s pension accounts — which are about 54 percent funded — are not as severely underfunded as the city’s.
* She’s in Springfield today lobbying for her pension bill
“We put this together, because we knew if we didn’t do something . . . then we’re probably going to suffer . . . downgrades in our bonds,” Preckwinkle added. “And the longer we wait, the harder it is to do, the more money is required, the more difficult it is. So we’re pushing to get something done by the end of the session.”
Doing so, in the face of so-called pension fatigue after the General Assembly recently passed bills making changes to state and city of Chicago pension plans, may be a tall order. Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign the bill that would make changes to two of four Chicago pension plans that are in worse financial shape than the county plan. Preckwinkle said she’s talked to Quinn.
“I’ve talked to him about the fact that we will be trying to secure passage in this session,” she said. “He was noncommittal, but I’m hopeful that he will be supportive. I think it’s no secret that this is complicated by the fact that he has a city pension bill on his desk already.”
Quinn is in a tough spot, as he mulls whether to sign a city plan that likely would lead to a $250 million tax increase over the next five years, even as he talks about granting a larger income tax break to offset property taxes for homeowners across the state.
Yeah, but he also said he was “Put on this Earth” to solve the pension problems. Now, when property taxes could rise as a result, he doesn’t wanna hear about any pension reforms.