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The blame game

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* The Sun-Times editorial board points the finger of blame for the lack of pension reform at the two House leaders

Quinn said Illinois has no choice but to dramatically reduce pension costs. He is absolutely right, and we hope he won’t let anything stand in his way. And, more importantly, we hope House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross take up the cause with the same level of fervor.

The bill to lower the state’s crippling pension costs went down in flames after those leaders, who had successfully worked together most of the session, started butting heads.

One state representative explained it this way: “We’re caught in a game between Cross and Madigan and we don’t even know what game they’re playing.”

It’s time to end the games, and do the exceptionally hard but necessary work of protecting the state and its employee pension systems from insolvency.

* Mark Brown says blame everybody

But nothing important sails through the legislature without the speaker’s full support.

And it slowly became apparent Thursday that in dropping his sponsorship of the pension measure and tossing it into the lap of House Republican Leader Tom Cross, Madigan had sealed its doom.

I say slowly became apparent, because many of his own members were still guessing about his intentions even after a Madigan-controlled committee sent the measure to the full House first thing Thursday morning with some of his closest allies on board.

Then came word that Madigan himself intended to vote no, and the storm clouds slowly gathered until the point late Thursday evening when Cross announced that Gov. Pat Quinn had asked him to pull the plug for now — and try again in a few weeks.

In essence, Madigan was saying: Don’t blame me, blame the Republicans. It’s their bill now.

The Republicans, of course, had been telling us all along to blame Madigan, even though many admit they agree with the principle on which he was standing — that you can’t truly bring the pension costs under control once and for all until the people making the spending decisions are called upon to pay the bills.

In the blame game, both political parties put as much effort into making sure the other side gets the blame for the failure of some important piece of legislation as they put do into actually getting something accomplished.

The blame game is serious business. If played well, one side can gain political advantage over the other in the next election.

In focusing on Madigan, I’m not suggesting that he and his Democrats were any more to blame for the legislation’s failure than were the Republicans, who couldn’t put on enough votes to make it work. […]

I understand Madigan’s point about the cost shift, if that was truly his point, as nobody is ever sure what the speaker really wants, and most have given up trying to read his mind.

In the end, though, neither party brought you pension reform. A pox on both their houses until they come back and get it right.

* The SJ-R was exasperated with the two House leaders, but heaped praise on the governor

Most importantly, Gov. Pat Quinn has firmly established a leadership role here, especially in his unsuccess­ful last-minute bid to appease House Republicans by signing onto Cross’s plan.

Still, how discouraging it is to con­clude another legislative session un­able to address one of the two most important issues for the state’s finan­cial well being for the next three decades.

* And so did the Tribune

Quinn evidently wants pension reform just as urgently as the rating agencies that are now threatening to drop Illinois’ already dismal creditworthiness into free-fall. The possibility of reform wouldn’t have made it this far without his declaration in February that lawmakers had to solve the problem now.

Many Democrats and Republicans, under intense pressure from their pals in public employees unions, shied away from any vote that would have made changes to a state pension system at serious risk of insolvency. But timid avoidance has its limits: If more credit downgrades arrive, or if poor investment returns further imperil pension funds, members of both parties won’t be able to explain why they didn’t stabilize a system now $83 billion in the red.

So we encourage members of both parties to do pension reform right. And we encourage Quinn to make sure they do.

Your opinion?

* Related…

* Legislators punt on pension reform but pass gambling expansion

* Pension-reform package collapses in Illinois House

* Illinois lawmakers work on budget, pension cuts

* No House vote on pension plan; lawmakers to return soon

* State pension reform postponed

* Lawmakers Pass Budget, Delay Pension Reform

* Pension reform now left to possible summer debate

* Pension push collapses in Illinois Legislature

* Illinois pension reform stalls

* Pension cuts postponed in Illinois Legislature

* GOP pushes pension reform without shifting costs to IL schools

* Pension Bill Expected To Face Lawsuit

* Madigan Puts Brakes on Pension Plan: School Board Members React

* Senate approves House budget after adding education spending

* Illinois Approves Budget, Bonds, Medicaid Reforms, New Gambling; Punts on Pension Reforms

* Illinois lawmakers put off vote on pension reforms

posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:18 am


  1. However this ends up, Quinn has clearly shown more leadership on the pension issue than any other during his tenure.

    Comment by Anonymous Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:20 am

  2. To pass anything this summer, Cross would have to come up with 35 votes. I wonder if Rep. Bost would be among them, especially if firefighter pensions end up in the mix the way Rahm and other mayors want?

    Comment by reformer Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:26 am

  3. Madigan could have made this happen. A Plannned Tactical political move to shift blame to the Republicans this summer.
    Madigan A for politics and F for helping the state of Illinois

    Comment by Louie Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:26 am

  4. It doesn’t help your side when a very public rant against the speaker goes viral. Result, Madigan abandons reform and dumps it in Cross’ lap.

    It’s not wise to anger the gods.

    Comment by Wensicia Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:34 am

  5. Just a question.

    Was it included in the legislation that whatever money was saved by taking away access to the State health care system by retirees be put into the pension fund as cash each year by the State? The CMS numbers say something around $8,000 per year per retiree is the ‘cost’ to the State now.

    Taking away the compounded COLA reduces the pension liability but does not put any money into the pension fund. This does not ’save’ the state one dime each fiscal year.

    Making a 75 year old retiree find their own insurance if they can’t afford to give up the COLA is how the State fixes the pension system? Come on.

    I for one would be happy to pay my full share of what State insurance costs for me and my spouse. But, shouldn’t the $8,000 the State was paying for my insurance as a retiree be mandated to go into the underfunded pension account?

    Or, will the State just start spending the savings like they did when the State became ’self insured’ and thereby create a similar unfunded liability problem a decade or so down the road?

    Comment by Jechislo Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:37 am

  6. Leaves Madigan and the Dems in a great positionfor the fall campaign.

    As far as the rest of it goes, and maybe I’m being shortsighted here, let the financial houses downgrade Illinois debt. We either have to pay more or quit borrowing. If it gets so bad that Illinois can’t borrow anymore, then they can’t keep spending money they don’t have. Maybe then they will truly get serious about prioritizing spending to match revenue. Or raising revenue one way or the other.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:42 am

  7. Everyone’s on board with whacking the retired lunch lady pulling down a $15 g pension.

    The deal can’t be done because we have to protect the folks in Oak Park, Hinsdale and Wilmette who don’t want to pay for the six figure pensions they promised their teachers and school administrators.

    Shared sacrifice.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:46 am

  8. –If it gets so bad that Illinois can’t borrow anymore,–

    Where does this train of thought come from? New Illinois debt sells out in minutes, it’s exponentially oversubscribed.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:51 am

  9. ===New Illinois debt sells out in minutes, it’s exponentially oversubscribed.===

    If the rating agencies downgrade the state’s debt, can the state still sell it’s debt at a lower rate, if it can get borrowers to purchase the bonds at the lower rate?

    Comment by PublicServant Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:54 am

  10. Jechislo,

    Didn’t see anything in the bill about putting the savings into the pension funds. Of course, at 200 plus pages, I might have missed it. But as far as I can tell, it just frees up GRF cash to be wasted somewhere else …

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:54 am

  11. wordslinger,

    My point exactly. Every time they’ve downgraded the State debt, it has still sold out. Realsiticly, they will keep lending to the State because we are still a better bet than most other borrowers …

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:56 am

  12. Madigan tried and failed to push through his pension reform plan. He only wishes he were as all-powerful as some of the commenters assume.

    The Trib of course blames unions, but fails to mention the local government leaders and school districts, in the suburbs and downstate, who pressured legislators to kill the final Madigan proposal.

    The bill remaining without any cost shifting, was already closer to Cross’ proposal, so of course Madigan had him run with it.

    The Dems mostly stood up to their traditional political bases in pushing for sacrifice. The GOPers not as much.

    Failure is bad for us, and bad politically for all incumbents.

    Comment by mark walker Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:59 am

  13. Wouldn’t a 75 year old retiree be eligible for Medicare, Medigap, and prescription drug coverage. I had the impression that it was state retirees under 65 who would have had to look for insurance for themselves.

    In any case, the ACA is likely to survive in some form, in which case, all will have access to health insurance regardless of age or pre-existing conditions. This could significantly change the impact of pension reform on early retirees as currently proposed. In the meantime, I suppose, state bureaucrats can now mitigate the cost to taxpayers of state retiree health insurance by charging substantive premiums for retirees, especially those with higher pensions. It’s hard to argue with that approach, given that health insurance costs are likely to rise nationally with the advent of ACA.

    I agree, though, that those savings should be plowed into the pension debt. But taxpayer money is, alas, fungible.

    Comment by cassandra Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 10:59 am

  14. I agree with Mark Brown that multiple parties are to blame.

    Republicans in every state are willing to do pension reform and in Illinois, we also have democrats willing to do pension reform, and a governor behind pension reform as well. Plus the mayor of Chicago (While he doesn’t have a role technically, if he was against it, he’d probably sway some Chicago Dem legislators). Incredible that they can’t come together in agreement.

    I do wish Gov. Quinn had demanded a meeting this morning rather than “at some point in the coming week.”

    Comment by Robert Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:01 am

  15. ===Wouldn’t a 75 year old retiree be eligible for Medicare===

    Retirees hired before 1986 are not eligible for medicare because they never paid into it. That’s the main problem, and why forcing retirees to make the choice is reprehensible.

    Comment by PublicServant Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:04 am

  16. “Where does this train of thought come from? New Illinois debt sells out in minutes, it’s exponentially oversubscribed.”

    Word, State of IL debt is still rated as ‘investment grade’, so currently that’s working for us. Banks, pension funds, Insurance companies, etc. can all buy our bonded indebtedness and use it as collateral, as long as it is ‘investment grade’.

    We take a full 2 step downgrade and we’re no longer considered to be ‘investment grade’. Entities can only hold so much non ‘investment grade’ (speculative) bonded indebtedness.

    It’s not just higher rates and more stringent terms, it’s the fact that there are large sectors of bond buyers who are now legally constrained from buying some/any state of Illinois bonded indebtedness.

    As an example, most local governments can only invest money in ‘investment grade’ securities. Every County and municipality (over a certain size) has to have an official “Investment Policy”, and it’s all about holding ‘investment grade’ securities.

    The original intent was “No more Orange County, CA situations”.

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:07 am

  17. OMG, Cassandra. I am in agreement with you and had the same question regarding the 75 year old lunch lady. Is there a full moon?

    Comment by lincolnlover Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:09 am

  18. Quinn should take the bull by the horns and demand
    a meering as soon as possible. If we fail our bond
    rating will be junk status soon.

    Mark Brown is correct there is a lot of blame to spread around.That said there is a lot of work to be done,just admiring what was done is not enough.

    Comment by mokenavince Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:11 am

  19. Did Gov. Quinn make any pubic appearances in the last week, besides a parade, Cubs game and talking to 8th graders about pensions? Maybe he should have gotten out there and sold the need for pension stabilization to real constituencies.

    Comment by South Sider Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:16 am

  20. If there’s one thing this past session has shown us, it’s that there really should be no sacred cows. A legislator is not necessarily anti-firefighter or anti-policeman or anti-teacher if he or she supports pension and retiree healthcare reforms. A legislator is not necessarily anti-education if he or she votes to cut state funding to school districts. A legislator is not necessarily anti-poor or anti-uninsured if he or she votes for Medicaid reform and/or cuts. We’re facing serious issues and everything has to be on the table. At least the matters at hand were discussed and will likely be dealt with in short order.

    Comment by Team Sleep Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:16 am

  21. does anyone know how much, if anything, was appropriated to cms for retiree health care? that would give us an idea how much they are going to take out of the retirees’ hides.

    Comment by langhorne Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:16 am

  22. Ty is to blame.

    He started this ball rolling, got the Tribune and the Republicans on board, but then didn’t do the work needed to keep his troops in line.

    Apparently, there is a major fault line in the Republican Party between big business and local elected Republican leaders, who dominate school boards in the GOP districts.

    “Fiscal Accountability” is for the other guy.

    Ty should have pushed Republicans harder, because Madigan’s bill was the best he was gonna get.

    The more votes “reform” legislation needs, the weaker it gets.

    My bet is that what we’ll end up with now is either:

    1) State contributions to Chicago pensions that mirror downstate;

    2) A scaled-back version of the Madigan bill that:

    a) still allows some cost shifting to the state for downstate and suburban pension costs;

    b) Has the state making contributions to the Chicago pension system that mirror downstate and burbs;

    c) Scales back the confiscation of employee benefits;

    d) Increases education funding for K-12 and restores preschool cuts;

    e) Nets out at exactly $88 billion in savings for pension reform.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:18 am

  23. Medicaid reform worked because all four leaders worked together to develop a plan and execute it.

    Pension reform failed because madigan refused to build a consensus on his plan with other leaders and dropped his plan at the last minute so there was no time for negotiation or discussion.

    Comment by Easy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:19 am

  24. Just to be clear — Illinois debt sells out despite downgrades because smart investors know that there is no risk of default. Our bondholders get paid first. So when the rating agencies fiddle with our bond ratings, they are just taking money from the pockets of Illinois taxpayers and putting it into the shiny vaults of the bond buyers. (I’m thinking Scrooge McDuck here…) Who wouldn’t buy a bond if they were getting a premium without increased risk?

    Comment by soccermom Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:31 am

  25. cassandra,

    SB-1313 requires retirees to buy the health insurance. This hits primarily at SERS retirees because TRS retirees already have to buy it. It was SERS employees who got it premium free with 20 or more years of service.

    SB-1673 (and it’s individual clones whose numbers I don’t have handy) offered the COLA / insurance access trade-off and applied to all retirees. If you refused the reduced COLA, you could not buy health insurance under the group plan.

    For people 65 and older on Medicare, the state health insurance functioned as a ‘Medigap’ plan, paying what Medicare didn’t pay, providing prescription coverage (which Medicare doesn’t) and covering some health care procedures that are not covered by Medicare. If you are in this category, it is fairly easy and mostly reasonable cost to buy a ‘Medigap’ policy to replace what you would lose from not having the State insurance. This would be a viable choice for 65+ SERS retirees.

    If you are not Medicare eligible, it is a whole different story. Everyone in the US (more or less) is entitled to Medicare Part A (hospitalization). If you did not pay into FICA (Social Security, etc.), then you are not eligible for Medicare Part B which is basically all your health insurance except hospital. You can’t even buy it in your own right. If you as a non-eligible person are the survivor of a person who was Part B eligible, then you probably have the ability to buy Part B based on your deceased spouse. The people who fall into this category include non-coordinated SERS employees (pre-Tier 1 who chose State only) and TRS. I don’t know where the GARS / JRS / SURS people fit.

    Then there are the younger than 65 retirees. If you and your spouse are healthy, you may be able to buy major medical for about the same cost but most likely not ‘full coverage’ like you get from the State health insurance. If you or your spouse have pre-existing conditions, your cost is going to be more than the State insurance. (I can safely say this because even paying 100% of the State cost only covers healthy major medical). Later when you turn 65 and receive Medicare, you can get ‘Medigap’ but at that point you can’t get your COLA back. These people are the ones really being taken to the cleaners.

    Madigna siad he would keep his COLA. Of course he would, he was at the 1970 COn-COn, and knows it is protected. He also knows he can buy a ‘Medigap’ policy.

    Re ACA, there are some interesting items there as relates to SB-1673. The States current plan is grandfathered plus they also asked for and received a waiver to the gold plated Caddilac tax on health insurance. Under the ACA, employers generally can’t cut the amount of their group health insurance contribution by more than 5%. They also can’t substancially change things like benefit levels, co-pays, etc. The one exception is if the group is composed soley of retirees. Take note that SB-1673 has language transferring the responsibility for the retiree health to a seperate insurance trust fund; that would put all the retirees in a seperate group plan and then it will be Katie bar the door on makign the retirees pay and pay.

    Sorry for the length, but it’s not a simple topic.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:32 am

  26. Start with Madigan Plan. Pass on the Normal Cost to schools, functionally it makes sense - schools pay the IMRF pension employer cost now. Increase General State Aid funding each year by half of what is passed on to schools - that way the poorest schools get the most $ to help partially offset the increased cost in pensions.

    On a side note - love how we call it Medicare Reform and Pension Reform. To the recipients, its Medicare cuts and Pension cuts. To those paying the bills and making the changes - it feels better to call it Reform.

    Comment by Archimedes Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:41 am

  27. soccermom - Well put. I’m so sick of everyone talking about these rating agencies like they’re in the next room with a gun. I don’t understand how they’re allowed to impact government borrowing costs with no real basis for their ratings. A state bank is looking better all the time.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:43 am

  28. Retired Non-Union Guy:


    Comment by cassandra Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:43 am

  29. Oops - Medicaid, not Medicare. Got wrapped up int he previous post…..

    Comment by Archimedes Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 11:44 am

  30. Let’s say there is a pension plan passed and signed by the governor. And then let’s also say the courts find it unconstitutional. Does the downgrade happen immediately?

    Comment by Anon Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:09 pm

  31. @ Retired Non-Union Guy — well written. Thx for the last paragraph re: ACA.

    Comment by Emily Booth Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:11 pm

  32. If you do not qualify for Medicare through your or a spouses wages you can still purchase the coverage if you are 65 and older. Right now that is 458/mo for Part A and 99.90 for part B and an average of about 35 for part D. This adds up to probably less than what the full premium is through the state. The message I see in all this is the state really does not want to provide retirees with healthcare since it saves on thee GRF. I just wonder what they will try to go after next

    Comment by Illinifan Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:29 pm

  33. ===it just frees up GRF cash to be wasted somewhere else===

    Yeah, like on the state’s annual pension contributions. Just sayin…

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:41 pm

  34. @Easy -

    Medicaid reform worked because hospitals and docs both pressured Republicans to negotiate in good faith and support new revenue.

    No one is pressuring Republicans to be constructive in pension negotiations, and absent outside forces, they revert to their obstructionist tendencies.

    Democrats supported $88 BILLION in pension cuts, mainly taken out of the pockets of public employees.

    Republicans couldn’t even back a plan to stop local school districts from shifting $27 billion in costs on to the state taxpayers, a plan that has conservative backing.

    The irony of the Tribune-GOP obstructionism is two-fold:

    - Normally you drive things into overtime to ensure you have a seat at the table. But Republicans ALREADY had a seat at the table.

    - This is actually one table you don’t want a seat at.

    - The big winners yesterday were the unions, who needed to lock in 60 votes to block legislation until now, when they only need 48.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:42 pm

  35. ===when they only need 48. ===

    Maybe. Or the final bill won’t have an immediate effective date.

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:45 pm

  36. I don’t agree with Mark Brown in the least, this is the same old journalistic tactic of blaming elected officials for being the very politicians that they actually are, and expecting there are some type of pie in the sky super legislative leaders who act in the interests of the greater good. Speaker Madigan in relation to the pension bill acted in the interests of community that elected him. If you are effectively going to force retired public sector workers into a devil’s dilemma over the COLA/health care, and change other aspects of the pension system, shouldn’t the issue of citizens of Chicago’s income tax dollars that go to help pay for Plainfield’s teacher’s pensions without reasonable reciprocal funding for Chicago teachers pensions from Rep Cross’s constituents’ income tax dollars be addressed? One way to address this issue is the shift the burden to all the schools districts over time. Given that the state is in fiscal crisis providing more state funding to the Chicago Teachers Pension fund seems absurd, which is why HB4246 went no where.

    Senator Radogno has indicated that any change to the funding of downstate and suburban teachers pensions has to be also linked to a reduction in supposed extra money the Chicago Public Schools get relative to all other districts in Illinois. When asked to quantify this claim her staff produced nothing other than costs relating to disabled children in Chicago and provided no comparison to actual citizens of Chicago tax dollars paying for out of Chicago teachers pensions. Once Rep Cross got control of this bill he certainly could have proposed additional language to address Rodogno’s concerns if they could be actually quantified.

    The praise for the Governor is absurd, the cost shift concept was his idea and came from his own proposals, the Speaker did not cook up this concept. The Governor claiming he could just abandon the cost shifting proposal supposedly for the greater good is just none sense. The truth is the Governor, and Rep Cross, could not guide the bill through the House. There is no evidence that the Speaker issued directives to Democrats in the House to not support the bill, there is evidence that Chicago Democrats agreed with the Speaker on the cost shifting issue.

    Comment by Rod Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:50 pm

  37. Fair point, Rich. Although if it doesn’t get done by June 30th, it probably won’t take effect until next July 1st, at which point you actually need more dramatic cuts because the deficit will have compounded another year.

    How are those AFSCME contract negotiations going, you think?

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 12:56 pm

  38. Illinifan,

    You’re right. Most people don’t pay for Part A. I glossed over the case of paying for Part A giving you the right to buy Part B. The whole Medicare thing is like a maze and it all depends on which point you start at.

    Right now, if you are Part A eligible, the State pays about $380 a month for you. Until we know what percentage the SB-1313 magic chart will require us to pay, all we can do is generalize about the cost will be to the retiree.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 1:09 pm

  39. I cannot make any sense out of Quinn’s actions. It seems he killed the pension reform legislation over the cost shift which he is on record supporting.

    Did he expect Chicago legislators to vote for a pension bill that does not incorporate the cost shift in some form?

    If a pension benefits reduction bill passed without the cost shift then did Quinn expect that Republican legislators and downstate Democratic legislators would vote for a separate bill that implements the cost shift?

    Madigan’s response was entirely rational to a rather strange move on Quinn’s part.

    Comment by east central Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 1:18 pm

  40. Cassandra is right in that the exchanges will allow people to purchase plans when they are in the gap between retirement and Medicare eligible. Some of those plans will likely be close to what an adjusted retiree plan would cost overall (premiums, deductibles and co-lays) and many could easily qualify for IPXP. Plans that are grandfathered in still must meet certain guidelines set forth by the PPACA and must be reviewed by HHS officials. If CMS and SERS presents a retiree health plan to HHS that is untenable and in partial violation to the PPACA, the HHS officials will not hesitate to remind the state that it would either have to revamp the new system or start over. And unless Medicare becomes incredibly expensive over the next few years, purchasing the trio (A, B & D) and a supplemental plan or purchasing an Advantage plan may make more sense for retirees should the state really jack up the retirees’ cost share.

    Comment by Team Sleep Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 1:57 pm

  41. Bondholders are buying the debt, because they are earning a rate about 2 times the market rate, with little risk of not getting paid. the bondholders have first claim to tax revenues. All this is doing is costing the Illinois tax payers more tax money to pay higher interest rates.

    Comment by Louie Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 2:10 pm

  42. Interesting that CMS has posted the health premiums for retirees on the SERS link, effective July 1. It shows retirees with over 20 years pay nothing. Significant? A blip? Raised my eyebrows.

    Comment by Former Merit Comp Slave Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 2:14 pm

  43. Translation, lets make sure we put people in a situation where they have the choice of two bad options instead of dealing with the funding problem. They just dont get it.

    Comment by Obamas Puppy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 2:41 pm

  44. ==I cannot make any sense out of Quinn’s actions. It seems he killed the pension reform legislation over the cost shift which he is on record supporting.==

    Quinn didn’t kill anything. Suburban and downstate republicans and democrats absolutely refused to put and votes on this bill because of the cost shift, that is what killed it. Until downstate and the suburban school districts start paying their fair share or Chicago gets cash to offset the imbalance, it’s going to stay “killed”.

    And by the way, these are the some of the same House members who spent the most time this session complaining about how nothing is being done about pension costs. Classic NIMBY move.

    Comment by Lester Holt's Mustache Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:22 pm

  45. Former Merit Comp Slave,

    That’s because (1) SB-1313 hasn’t been signed yet, (2) they are still waiting on union negoiations, (3) they haven’t finished the HMO bid evaluations, (4) don’t have all the details worked out, and (5) it hasn’t been ran past and approved by JCAR.

    According to the CMS Dep. Dir./ Bureau of Benefits speaking Wednesday at the RSEA meeting, the new rates under SB-1313 will be set and we retirees will have to start paying sometime between July 1 and Jan 1, 2013. Before the new rates go in place, there will be another open enrollment period so we can decide which health insurance we want to go with until July 1, 2013 when SB-3673 one one of it’s clones would take effect if passed.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:28 pm

  46. Oops … typo … should be SB-1673 (not 3673)

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:30 pm

  47. Republicans had a choice: 1) protect wealthy school districts from liability for the lucrative pensions caused by generous salaries, or 2) pass pension reform. If pension reform were the higher priority, then it would’ve passed last night.

    Comment by reformer Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:33 pm

  48. Former Merit Comp Slave,

    Should have added one other tidbit from the RSEA meeting: dependent health under SB-1313 will cost the same as retiree health … so in other words, instead of paying the flat $100 (give or take, depending on the plan), you will pay some percentage of the amount shown on your Comptroller statement, and it will be the retiree age (at time of retirement) that gets cranked in to the formula for both people

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:44 pm

  49. Mr. Mustache - Don’t forget that, by law, Chicagoans have an incredibly low property taxrate. Downstaters, by and large, don’t have that protection. Schools will simply up their tax rate, instead of trying to make the money they have work. My local school district already makes up more than half of my property tax. I can’t imagine how much more they would take if this were passed with no controls on that end of it.

    Comment by lincolnlover Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:50 pm

  50. lincolnlover,

    67% (2/3’s) of my property tax bill goes to schools, either K-12 or commumity college.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 3:58 pm

  51. ===Schools will simply up their tax rate, instead of trying to make the money they have work===

    Um, you ever heard of tax caps?

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 4:00 pm

  52. Rich,

    Yes, there are tax caps … but I’ve also seen schools figure out how to use life / safety bonds to partially circumvent those caps by shifting fairly questionable items into the l/s category. 186 is fairly good at that, managing to build new schools the voters turned down in a referendum.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 4:05 pm

  53. RN-U GUY
    I’ve seen the same loose interpretation of what qualifies for life-safety funding. Following the loss of a building bond referendum, my local district went ahead with most of the project by simply redefining it as life-safety. The total cost actually exceeded the referendum amount.

    Comment by reformer Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 4:28 pm

  54. Team Sleep,

    That works if you are Medicare age (65). Doesn’t work for the younger retirees. The youngest of the 2002 ERI retirees turn 60 this year. And you still have (for now) Tier 1 people who under the rule of 85 people who can retire about 55 and the 2.2 “hazardous job” people who can retire about 50. So there is a fairly large class (think the number was around 20,000 right now of which about 8-9,000 are ERI) who aren’t old enough for Medicare. That group is basically trapped.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 4:32 pm

  55. If the State does a cost shift, then the downstate school districts must be able to have a new tax rate to fund the money and NOT dip into current revenues. Madigan’s Bil does not offer that. So then you take from a school’s Ed fund, or transportation fund. Each fund has its own tax rate. Madigan’s Bill added 1% of salaries from 2014-2019 (6% by 2019). Then it was .5% starting 2020 to FOREVER. How much money does the state want to take from the schools? Does the State want the schools to be a piggy Bank? How many teachers and staff would need to be fired to fund the pensions? Not a great way to support schools. Madigan’s bill will HARM CHILDREN, not make school districts responsible.

    Comment by Teacher Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 4:47 pm

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