Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » This just in… Madigan moves pension reform bill… House takes up bill… Pension bill zooms out of House… Pension bill breezes through Senate
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This just in… Madigan moves pension reform bill… House takes up bill… Pension bill zooms out of House… Pension bill breezes through Senate

Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 12:12 pm - As I already told subscribers this morning, Speaker Michael Madigan has moved a pension reform plan that is hotly opposed by the unions. The bill passed the House Personnel and Pensions Committee by an 8-2 vote. The two “No” votes were both Springfield-area Republicans, Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer.

Madigan is expected to run a floor vote today and the Senate is expected to take up the bill as early as tomorrow.

The legislation creates a two-tiered pension system. It raises the retirement age, gets rid of double-dipping by a retiree if that person gets another public job, limits pensionable salaries to $106,800, etc

Proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the changes raise the retirement age to 67 in order to qualify for full benefits, restrict annual cost of living increases for retirees, limit the salary that can be used to determine retirement benefits and restrict those who qualify to earn enhanced benefits under the “alternative formula” set aside for high risk jobs.

If eventually enacted into law, the changes would go into effect Jan. 1 and affect future members of the State Employees Retirement System, State Universities Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System. Senate Bill 1946 also incorporates changes to lawmaker and judges retirement systems that were approved by the House last week. […]

A precise savings from the changes has not been determined, but a top Madigan aide said it should save “well over $100 billion” over several decades.

David Vaught, budget director for Gov. Pat Quinn, said lawmakers need to act quickly before an upcoming bond sale to pay for public works projects. Vaught said bond rating agencies will be looking at whether Illinois is taking steps to address its budget problems and could downgrade Illinois’ bond rating if nothing is done.

Speaker Madigan talked to reporters afterward. Among other things, he wasn’t optimistic that Republicans would support the pension bill. Watch the avail

Madigan’s opening testimony

We’ll have budget director David Vaught’s comments in a bit as well as committee testimony by at least one opponent.

* 12:17 pm - From an IFT spokesperson…

Our estimate is this bill would reduce the state’s cost for a new teacher to 1 percent of payroll. Basically, new teachers will pay the entire cost, while the state pays over 8 percent for a new legislator.

* 12:25 pm - Budget director David Vaught testifies

* 12:58 pm - Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield) asked Speaker Madigan a whole lot of questions. Here’s part one

*** 1:54 pm *** The House Republicans asked for a one-hour conference as soon as Madigan’s bill was brought up on the floor. They need to figure out what they’re gonna do. Back at 3ish.

*** 2:34 pm *** The IFT has issued a fact sheet on the bill. Click here.

And here’s IFT’s pension testimony.

*** 3:48 pm *** The House is now bebating the bill on Third Reading.

*** 5:05 pm *** The House approved the pension bill 92-17-7. Speaking to reporters minutes after the vote, Speaker Madigan said he expects the Senate to call the bill either tonight or tomorrow morning.

*** 8:20 pm *** Senators sent the pension reform bill that began movement in a House committee this morning to Gov. Pat Quinn by a 48-6-3 vote. From the committee hearing where Speaker Madigan read the amendments to SB1946 to the final Senate vote, it took the Legislature roughly 10 and a half hours to approve the bill.

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  1. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:25 pm:

    Madigan just got himself a whole new bunch of targets.

  2. - Ghost - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:37 pm:

    This looks to be a very dangerous trick bag for the GOP that the chessmaster has putinto play.

    The GOP have been claling for reform and cuts as their critical talking points in support of them running the govt, and opposing tax increases. if they do not majorily get behind this change those votes will be drug out at every opportunity to show they are not really supporting reform or cuts.

    If they do support it and it passes, QUinn gets to show how he is working to deal with the financial problems etc, and why we still need a tax increase even with those changes.

  3. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:37 pm:

    Sounds like Madigan is talking about a serious advance on pension reform.

    Do the Republicans have a reason to oppose, beyond just petty politics?

    What am I missing here? Seriously, I would like to hear the real scoop.

  4. - cassandra - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:38 pm:

    I’m sure we’ll see some loud opposition from AFSCME, but let’s face it, the pension bonanza for government employees has become something of an albatross for AFSCME and other employee unions too too, in an increasingly pensionless private sector world.

    This is, of course, only the opening salvo. I’d expect to see some major watering-down–if anything happens.

    And nothing may happen, but we’ll hear a whole lot about the Dems trying, and perhaps many in the voting booth will confound trying with doing.

  5. - Fed up - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:43 pm:

    I’ll believe this when it is signed into law. Pension reform is a must, but I just don’t believe madigan and the dems will do it. Remember the GOP does not matter. I hope this becomes law but just think it’s part of a silly game.

  6. - Montrose - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:48 pm:

    *Remember the GOP does not matter.*

    Technically, you are right, but Ghost’s observation stands. How do they spin saying no to the vehicle for the very reforms they have been screaming for? Isn’t a smart political move on their part to back this bill?

    Just saying no and that the Dems can do it on their own will not play well in the their districts.

  7. - Mr. Ethics - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:49 pm:

    This seems fair since a 20 something entering the State workforce gets a pretty good wage and benefits package and probably doesn’t expect a pension plan any different then his peers.

  8. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:52 pm:

    ==20 something entering the State workforce gets a pretty good wage and benefits package and==

    What state do you live in?

  9. - Old Shepherd - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 12:57 pm:

    After looking at the legislation, it appears we already have a two-tiered pension system. There is quite a bit of language about employees starting after 1977 but before 1982. This looks like it is adding a third tier, not a second. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  10. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:00 pm:

    Nobody is surprised at this because it was inevitable. Politics doesn’t matter. Madigan is right, the GOP doesn’t matter.

    This is about a couple, (Democrats/Unions), discovering that the good times has ended. The GOP isn’t a mistress involved. They don’t call the shots. The GOP isn’t listened to by either side in this fight. They don’t matter.

    How the GOP votes doesn’t matter either. It would be like accusing Ford of secretly plotting the Toyota Recalls. It isn’t political for the GOP, because they don’t have a dog in this fight, and regardless of the outcome of this, won’t have a dog in this fight next year either.

    The GOP isn’t in charge. If they were, then the Unions can whine and point at how horrible they are, and cling closer to the Democrats. With the Democrats in charge, the Unions will not cling to the Republicans, and the Republicans know this.

    If the Republicans support this pension plan, all it would do is play into the Simon Legree image Democrats have accused the GOP of being. Voting against the pension plan only creates the charge of not being Simon Legree for political reasons. Either way the GOP’s relationship with the Unions will be a no-go. And it will hurt the Democrats to boot.

    Sorry, but that’s how divorces happen when the couple files bankruptsy sometimes!

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:03 pm:

    VanillaMan, you know, or should know, that plenty of Republicans get union backing in this state, particularly the teachers and AFSCME.

    …And construction trades.

  12. - Ghost - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:05 pm:

    === “in an increasingly pensionless private sector world. ===

    In the Untied States, there has been a shift from defined benefit plans, to 401k plans. s we have removed defined benefit plans, however, we have increased the provision of social and tax covered services to our ageing population becuase the 401k system does not work. Removing defined benefit plans is costing all of us, and creating an ever increasing population of poverty level retirees. Just because there is a tredn in the private sector, does not mean the trend is more economical or the best way to go.

    Consider this, the banking industry, appraisers etc were trending towards easy loand with inflated values on real estate to fuel a housing and lending boom. They moved away from conservative appraisals and loans. I dont think that trend worked well for us in the end, and is a cause of a large chunk of the 13 billion we are in debt.

    Penny wise pound foolish.

  13. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==that plenty of Republicans get union backing in this state==,

    And there will be plenty more starting today.

  14. - Bongo Furry - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:12 pm:


    =What state do you live in=

    I have lived in Illinois for the last 30 years. I worked in the private sector for 20 years before I started working for the State the last 10 years.
    Compared to the real world outside government, state employees do start with good wages and benefits.

  15. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:13 pm:

    yeah, because that “own your own retirement plan” that Brady’s selling is such a more attractive option.

    If the November elections turn into a battle of the pensioned vs the pensionless …

  16. - Ghost - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:14 pm:

    VM your ford toyota thing is a complete logicall fallacy on many levels.

    GOP: no tax increases, we need refomr and to cut spending!

    GOP: We are voting against this package to cut spending and reform pensions, but it is ok becuase they did not need out votes anyway….

    It owuldbe more akin, under your analogy, to Toyota demannding that Ford make sure it has safe cars which do not accelerate out of control while they are straring down a massive recall for that problem and are the only company identifed as havinng that failure….

    This is why single issue talking points can be dangerous, make yourself the cut spending reform govt operations party and you run into troubles when your party wont cut spending or refomr govt operations.

  17. - Reality - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:14 pm:

    The best damn idea to come out of Springfield ever!

  18. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:17 pm:

    Not to get too personal but I think I have guessed your job…legislator!

  19. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:18 pm:

    –limits pensionable salaries to $106,800–

    That could be a real problem for the universities in attracting top folks in the sciences and medicine. Exemptions, maybe?

  20. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    It’s about time. My wife and several friends and family members are state employees, but our pension system is drowning and needs reformed. I have always argued that caps on double-dipping and end-of-career pension calculations are a necessary start. There are other reforms that can be enacted after these caps are put in place, such as 401(k)-style contributions and a higher overall retirement age.

  21. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:20 pm:

    I bet you and the missus are real popular at the annual xmas party.

  22. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:23 pm:

    Word, then those top of the line professionals can put away some of their additional income in a Roth or 401(k). If the state keeps some attractive benefits as a drawing card, such as great health insurance and job security, then the state can still attract talented professionals.

  23. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:27 pm:

    Bill, this is me advocating the reforms - not my wife, family members or friends. They all know how I feel.

  24. - irish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:28 pm:

    As a State E,ployee of 35 years the pension was the only thing that made these jobs worth having. When I started with the state in 1975 I was making $822.00/month gross. Compare that to your private sector wages. For at least half of my career my wage was at or below the poverty level. During that time there were no Cassandras yelling that the private sector was making too much and that I should be equally compensated. They were too busy hauling their money to the banks and checking on their investments. As my time with the State increased and I got a few promotions I began to make a livable wage. During this time the State began to take the money I have paid into my pension system and used it to build roads and infrastructure and all the Cassandras said “this is good it doesn’t hurt me so why should I care.” Now as I near retirement and am looking forward to the retirement I have earned suddenly we have all these Cassandras dragging themselves out of the gravy bowl and screaming that State employees are the demon-gods that are the cause of all the budget mess. Before you injure yourselves hopping around and yelling, educate yourself and do some homework. Don’t let fanatics lead you around. Look at the actual starting wages State employees earn. Look at the requirements they have to meet before they are hired.

    A new Site Technician comes on board at $36,000.00/year. He/she probably has to have a herbicide applicators license and a CDL. The CDL has to be in hand before he is hired. He has to pass a test of maintenance knowledge before being hired. His shifts will probably be rotating, some times he will be starting at 4:30 am if he is working a hunting area or he might be ending his shift at midnight if he has to work a campground. What would he make in the private sector for these same qualifications and responsibilities?

  25. - Bongo Furry - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:32 pm:

    No I am not a Legislator. 200 years ago I would have challenged you to a duel for such an insult.
    I have spent twice as much time in the private sector as I have at the state. I work with a lot of people who have worked for the state their whole career and think the state pay and benefits are below the private sector. They think that because they have never been in the private sector.
    I agree with Team. A working less generous system is better than a generous collapsed and failing system.

  26. - Realitiy is - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:33 pm:

    The state is hardly hiring anyone and that doesnt look like its going to change soon. With that in mind I wonder how long it will take to reap any substantial benefit from these changes.

    New folks wont retire until 67 either so how long before they retire retire ? 20, 30 years ?

    I dont think a “401 K” plan would ever be implemented because then they couldnt skip payments on it.

  27. - amused - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:35 pm:

    Fed UP is wrong. The pension bill will pass the House today with bipartisan backing.

  28. - siriusly - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:35 pm:


    Politics aside - congratulations to Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Madigan! I think this is a very important first step (albeit a baby step) in improving our state’s fiscal condition.

    Politically speaking - this bill gets at least 80 votes. No Republican target is going to want to oppose it, but the safe GOP members and leadership can vote no to try and suck up to some of the unions.

  29. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:36 pm:

    he’s free to go pursue private sector employment if its a better deal.
    Perhaps 20-some years from now everyone will conclude this was terrible and has resulted in low quality state and public sector employees who simply aren’t up to snuff.
    Nothing stops the General Assembly from changing this in the future.
    Life’s about adapting to change.

  30. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:37 pm:

    Team, I’m talking about real high-end jobs like chief of radiology or internal medicine at the university hospitals. I don’t a 401k will dazzle them.

  31. - Rambler - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:38 pm:

    Gotta give MJM credit for timing.
    Pension reform proposal after the primary and before the general; highly skeptical of a tax hike now but likely a different story after the election.
    Probably trying to clear out some of the underbrush before 2014 and Lisa’s possible run.

  32. - siriusly - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:38 pm:

    All my jubilation aside. Pension reform II, III and IV are still needed. But like I said, this was a very good first baby step.

    Elimination of the excessive greed of double dippers like WAYNE WATSON is way overdue.

  33. - Ghost - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:39 pm:

    psst Team in the state system we do not have and can not have a 401(k) plan. We do have deferred comp.

  34. - irish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:42 pm:

    If this is such a good thing then why is the reform package for Legislators different from the reform plan for the rank and file folks?
    The State will not be able hire the quality of people they need after reducing the benefits of those jobs. We will come full circle back to the way it was when I started. Staffs changed when the Governor changed and everyone was connected or related to a politician. Of course that’s the way the GA wants it. Think of that as you are driving down the snowy highway at 60 miles an hour and a 20 ton snow plow comes up along side you and you wonder how he got his job.

  35. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    SURS currently can opt for a 401k and can continue doing so under this plan. Many of those top o the line incomes aren’t 35-year types. They move around and defined contribution plans offer more mobility.

  36. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    irish, I came out of school in 1975 from one of the top two engineering schools in my discipline in the country and made the “princely” sum of $6 per hour designing nuclear power plants.

    That was on the high side of salaries that year.

    Pension? Practically nothing. After 17 years vested I’ll be getting about $600/month at age 65.

    I really can’t believe that this pension reform thing just came out of nowhere.

    In addition to this, we need to restrain end of career sweeteners NOW and end the incredibly expensive early retirement benefits next year when the bill comes up.

    Does anyone actually believe this is for anything more than show?

  37. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    irish, I already think of that. lol

  38. - Robert - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    it is quite good to see Madigan taking a step to improve the budget. until this point, I thought Quinn was the only elected official semi-serious about doing something to balance the budget.

  39. - cassandra - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:46 pm:

    I believe that a number of number-crunching think tanks have published information in recent years
    to the effect that state and local workers have higher total compensation than private workers in similar jobs when the value of benefits is included.

    The train has already left the station on the
    pensionless private sector. The public sector can’t wall itself off from that, and other aspects of the global economy, no matter how
    hard they try. Well, sometimes they can. I would note that our Pat has taken special care to wall off unionized 50,000 plus state employees from any layoffs (other than a couple hundred already in progress last spring–if vacancies can’t be found) until June, 2011. Ironclad job security is a pretty good perk, not counted in compensation, -and increasingly rare in the private sector.

    But in general, we’re all in this together, and together means the global economy, not just the US economy.

  40. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:47 pm:

    Considering the “big guns” like Hospital admimistrators, I believe they can take care of them with deferred income and purchasing annuities to get away from the defined contribution limitations.

    There are a LOT of tricks that governments can play if an employee has sufficient clout.

  41. - irish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:49 pm:

    Michelle 1:36 - The problem with that outlook is that in that 20 years of poor stewardship the cost of the damage that will be done to what we take care of will dwarf the savings recognized by this token “I want to be re-elected bill”. Like Ghost said above “penny wise pound foolish”

  42. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    irish, if it’s a “token” bill, as you call it, then why are you so upset about it? You can’t have it both ways.

  43. - Fed up - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:54 pm:


    I hope I’m wrong passing the house doesn’t make it law. Save the feel good they actually did something sentiment for the day it becomes law.

  44. - IllinoisR - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:55 pm:

    I like this.

  45. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:55 pm:

    the cost of the pension benefits currently given to state employees is approximately 5.5% of the employee’s payroll. the average cost of the retirement benefits given in the private sector are 6.2% plus whatever 401(k) match the employer provides.

    that is, the current retirement system for state employees is cheaper per employee than it is in the private sector. this is partly because most state employees do not recieve social security benefits (because the pension takes the place of these benefits).

    so why the “need” for pension reform? because the state has not been making it’s required contributions, and the debt has been piling up.

    there is no reason to penalize what is a fiscally sound, affordable and reasonable retirement plan for state employees based on legislators’/governors’ past unwillingness to make the required payments. the only permanent reform needed is stricter measures to ensure the payments are made in the future.

  46. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:56 pm:

    This bill does absolutely nothing to solve the state’s budget crisis. It does nothing to solve the 75 billion debt that the state already owes the pension systems as a result of their annual pilferage. At best, it allows them to live up to even less of their legal obligations than usual. Watch what comes next. They will project the savings for the next 50 years and spend all of it next year. Its the Madigan-Quinn approach to state government financing.

  47. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    How can they reform pensions? I thought the unions insisted that the current benefits must be enshrined for all time for anyone that enters state employment, if not, then benefits must be enhanced.

    It’s like in the constitution or something.

  48. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    ===They will project the savings for the next 50 years and spend all of it next year. ===

    Their projected savings is around $100 billion, so it’ll be a heckuva year. lol

  49. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 1:58 pm:

    JB, this is for new hires. Please pay attention.

  50. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:00 pm:

    I think John was trying to be funny.

  51. - irish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:01 pm:

    Rich, What I meant by token was that it is a typical MJM whack on the State employee to make him look good so I can keep my majority. The whole thrust of MJM’s agenda is to preserve that majority. He doesn’t care who or what that affects. His track record on voting against rank and file state employees is pretty solid. Compare that to his votes on benefits for legislators. He knows that none of this is going to raise the kind of money that is needed to fix this problem. But he does know that it will go far to make him look good. So it is token in solving the problem, which a lot of people seem to think it will do.

  52. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:03 pm:

    irish, if that $100 billion number is right, this goes a long way. But, if these cuts aren’t big enough, you could always lobby for larger ones. lol

  53. - Payraises for Unions!! - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:03 pm:


    Your Site Tech will get three payraises a year, 10 vacation days, 12 sick days, 3 personal days, 12 paid holidays, and health insurance. If he gets through the first six months his job is practically guaranteed for life. He is also earning twice as much as my brother who works at Wal-mart with none of the above mentioned benefits.

  54. - Cindy Lou - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:05 pm:

    I”ll be happy enough for now if after all this bickering about pensions for new hires, they actually send us a few new hires :-0

    Crews’ getting awfully thin out here.

  55. - jaded voter - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:06 pm:

    If the Unions are compliant or like the pension reforms offered it means the reforms are worthless. Real, financially sound, SUSTAINABLE, pension reform will have public unions screaming.

  56. - Former Card Carrying Repub - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:07 pm:

    With each “solve” to the budget mess comes the reality of how jacked up the debt is in the state. When we have, in my opinion, a serious problem in the education (public) of children of this state and now teachers are getting laid off, it rings home the total lack of leadership, across the board, the State of Illinois has endured.

    Go ahead, pass this pension reform. It’s not like it wasn’t overdue, especially the double dipping and enhanced pension with taking a better job at the end of a career. But folks, legislative folks, I’m ready for some real action. Laying off troopers and shutting down district locations? Ok. It’s a start. Keep it coming. That only scratches the surface.

  57. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:08 pm:

    I sincerely hope the people of Illinois would not allow their employees to be paid and treated comparably to Wal-Mart employees. The state as employer should be a model for the private sector. They shouldn’t be racing the private sector to the bottom. On one hand they need the credibility to act when employees in the private sector are being wronged. On the other the state should want the best employees it can afford. The point here is they CAN afford to pay their current benefits. It’s cheaper than what the private sector pays. Our elected leaders have simply chosen to pilfer those funds for use elsewhere for their own political advantage.

  58. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:08 pm:

    Ghost, are you really prohibited from walking into an Edward Jones or Raymond James office and opening a 401(k) or an IRA? If you are, then maybe allowing participation would be a good start, although deferred comp has a pretty good rate of return and is also tax-free when withheld from a paycheck.

    Word, the current pension mess in which many companies find themselves in has caused a cut into or perhaps even a complete dissolution of sexy pensions once promised to corporate types. It’s fairly rampant and there are estimates that the PBGC may itself go bankrupt. Unless top professionals are locked into a contract, companies, hospitals and associations can easily alter pension and benefit terms mid-stream. Allowing top professionals to receive a still six-figure pension payment and great health benefits while being given ample opportunities to invest in, perhaps, a matching 401(k) would help in recruitment.

  59. - irish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:09 pm:

    ==Payraises for Unions== Does your brother have to meet the same qualifications to be hired?
    And the jobs are not for life. In my time I have gone through 4 layoff periods where employees with less seniority than me have lost their jobs. Some were eventually called back others were not.

  60. - plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    On the surface, what has been presented appears to be a good start. Existing employees seem not to be affected. New hires will know what their retirement packages look.

    I do know from my familiarity with compensation for local governmental units that many positions command salaries substantially higher than similar positions in the private sector. For example the starting salary for a receptionist is 32K per year with full benefits. In the private sector that position is closer to 20K per year and benefits are iffy.

    If there are no gotchas in the body of the bill, it is one that should be supported by the GOP.

    The first thing to do when you find yourself in the bottom of a deep hole is to stop digging.

  61. - cassandra - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:12 pm:

    In the no man is an island vein, continued…

    I would also note that an increasing percentage of the work force, over 20 percent, I believe, is not connected to any workplace-they work for themselves as freelancers, consultants, and the like and not just for a few years post-retirement, but for their working entire lives. No corporate or state welfare for them, they have to fund their own automatic raises, health insurance, and pensions. They pay taxes too and this is a group that is unlikely to be too sympathetic to plump government employee pensions, or to government-enabled corporate welfare either. This is also a group which is likely to grow in the future.

  62. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    Just a wonky, procedural observation - unless the House plans on ignoring the Constitutional requirement that a bill be read by title on three different days, this bill can’t be called for a vote today. It’s only on 2nd reading, and has never been advanced to 3rd. The most that can happen is the amendment(s) can be adopted and the bill advanced to 3rd for a final vote tomorrow. Just sayin.

  63. - No SS - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    Thank you, anon, for reminding people that this IL pension system takes the place of social security for most of us and is not akin to a pension that workers for private companies get on top of social security benefits. Even those of us who have worked in the private sector before working for the state get our social security benefits reduced because of the state’s “pension.” I believe that IL adopted this system to save money over paying into social security and even though it costs them less than social security, now they are saying that this is too expensive. If only IL would have held up to its end of the bargin, it wouldn’t be so expensive an issue now. They are other ways to reduce wasteful spending.

  64. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:17 pm:

    Those who point out that this bill does nothing with regard to current unfunded liability are correct. The unions would have you believe that current benefits are protected under the Constitution. What are protected are the benefits that are already earned, not future unearned benefits. The changes which were offered today could just as easily be applied to existing employees with regard to benefits they have yet to earn.

    It’s also interesting that if you point a gun or a hose in municipalities or counties in this State you are not affected by this bill. That’s says a lot about the political clout of the police and fire unions.

  65. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:20 pm:

    Can you say a bit suspicious. Going to save a 100 billion. Lets have a little time to look over the bill once it is finalized. This will be another one of Madigan’s hoaxes where he says it will do someting, but not provide us or the legislators a real chance to look and analyze.

    If it is good enough for the school teachers and the guys plowing snow, it should be good enough for the legislature. How about applying the pension plan to legislators? I am tired of these guys on the state an federal level telling us it is a great idea, but not living by the same rules.

  66. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:21 pm:

    I would like to point out that $822/month in 1975 is equivalent to almost $39,000/year today. I started in the private sector in 1990 at $18,000/year, or about $29,000/year today. Neither is a whole lot of pay, but we know which is more than the other, right?

  67. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:24 pm:

    ===That’s says a lot about the political clout of the police and fire unions. ===

    They’re also popular with regular folks. Very dangerous to ding those guys.

  68. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:26 pm:

    “t’s also interesting that if you point a gun or a hose in municipalities or counties in this State you are not affected by this bill. That’s says a lot about the political clout of the police and fire unions.”

    Or it says more about the nature of their jobs. It’s a young man’s game they play.

  69. - Wizzard of Ozzie - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:26 pm:

    Over 100 Billion (with a B) over the course of 35 years. New employees will still receive more generous retirement benefits than private sector employees. And this is important Bill, it save at least 300 million for THIS upcoming fiscal year. It doesn’t do anything to address our deficit? Try again. This is substanitive, necessary, and real reform

  70. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:30 pm:

    Let’s commend all for fighting for the rights of the unhired, but state workers lose zip, zero, nada.
    The unhired still get a pension — not quite as choice as the current gig, but folks should check with the neighbors to see how their pension plan are doing. Most have none.

  71. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:30 pm:

    @GA Watcher:

    You are incorrect that the benefits for the future are not protected. That fact has been pretty well established. When you become an employee the pension obligations becomes like a contractual obligation, except it is guaranteed in the state constitution. I think the judges set a partially-related precedent when they ruled that their FUTURE COLA’s could not be eliminated due to the provisions that prohibit their compensation from being changed during their terms.

  72. - Rambler - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:32 pm:

    This is kind of a study in contrasts.
    PQ went on for months about pension reforms, and nothing happened. Finally he shifted his focus to a 1% tax hike that is likely going nowhere before November.
    MJM kept his mouth shut (as far as I know), and then suddenly a pension bill appeared that seems to be moving rapidly.
    OK, I agree with some who say they’ll believe it when it becomes law. And we’ll probably find some possible changes that MJM left out for his own reasons. It still seems like an interesting display of where the preponderance of power lies in Springfield.

  73. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:33 pm:

    Police and firefighters may still be “popular with regular folks,” but I’m not so sure that “regular folks” unquestionably support their pension plans anymore — especially when they find out that the communities they live in could be, or are being, forced to cut back or eliminate basic services like street maintenance, water/sewers, trash collection, etc., just to keep up with police and fire pensions.

    Not saying this is necessarily the “fault” of police and firefighters themselves, or that they don’t deserve some kind of security after they retire — but fiscal reality has to be faced.

  74. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:34 pm:

    From the State Constitution:

    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.

    Benefits cannot be diminished. Period.

  75. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:36 pm:

    –They’re also popular with regular folks. Very dangerous to ding those guys.–

    They run into burning buildings, deal with the bad guys and all you have to do is call and they’re there.

  76. - jaded voter - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:44 pm:

    True wordslinger,

    but many suburban cops are nothing more than overpaid meter maids——-revenue cops.

  77. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:52 pm:

    VanillaMan, you know, or should know, that plenty of Republicans get union backing in this state, particularly the teachers and AFSCME.

    I know, but still don’t see them as players here.

  78. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 2:53 pm:

    “PQ went on for months about pension reforms, and nothing happened… MJM kept his mouth shut (as far as I know), and then suddenly a pension bill appeared”

    I have to wonder, why the rush to pass pension reform TODAY after years of foot-dragging on the question? I suspect something has lit a fire under MJM’s chair so to speak… wonder what it could be.

  79. - lincolnlover - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:09 pm:

    When I left private employment in 1989, I was making $30,000 as a customer service rep. Pretty good money back then. I consciously took my “dream job” at the state (yes, there are some of those!) and went to work for a whopping $16,000. I knew what the salary was and was willing to work for that. But, my choice was greatly influenced by the benefits and the eventual defined benefit pension. Over the course of the past 21 years, the amount that I pay into my own pension has changed from 2% to 0% (in place of a pay raise for 2 years - thank you Gov. Edgar) back to 4%. What has NOT changed is the fact that no matter what they promise, the state does not pay ANYTHING! Go ahead and make it a 401K - but remember, that means they HAVE to match, because that is the IRS definition of a 401K, and just where do you think they will get the money to match my contribution? From the Cassandra’s of the world who have been getting by cheap and not keeping their end of the bargain. In other words, the state will have to raise taxes to meet the match. Still sound like a good idea?

  80. - Jake from Elwood - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:10 pm:

    A job with the State at a reduced pension is still a job. There are many in this economy who would gladly take a position with the State even if this bill becomes law. It’s not like the private sector is the land of milk and honey these days…

  81. - Finally - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:10 pm:

    This is so great! It does not solves all our problems but it is movement in the direction of admitting we have to do something. Finally!!!!!!!!

  82. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:22 pm:

    Any idea where in the bill the $300 million comes from? I didn’t think so. That’s because it doesn’t exist except in the governor’s and civic committees imagination.

  83. - Amuzing Myself - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:23 pm:

    Reality is: You just hit the nail square on the head! That’s exactly why guys like Brady want to do it.

  84. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:30 pm:

    I’m confused about all these comparisons between public and private sector employees. They’re two different kinds of employment — in theory and in practice.

    So the goal is to strip away all the public benefits so state employees have the same headaches as private employees?


    Public work isn’t private work. I’ve worked in both sectors, and I must say that the private sector is nothing to aspire to. Why in the world would unionized public employees want to look toward private sector employment standards as some kind of goal?

    Much of this is sour grapes from folks who aren’t in the public sector and got shafted by folks in the private boardrooms.

    Am I missing something here? Why not solve the fiscal problems based on an employment system that is — and will be — always conceptually and pragmatically *public*?

  85. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:41 pm:

    A good life without worry or loss is not guaranteed. Lots of folk have seen their 401ks be hit hard. For many that is their retirement fund. Means working longer or not retiring at all. To say that for us state workers we should continue to benefit from an archaic, outmoded, pension system and expect the citizens of this state to fund it is not fair. I didn’t take this job for the benefits but will benefit nonetheless. I am well compensated for what I do. I was not forced to work here. The changes proposed here won’t affect me - that may still happen.

    Many on this blod, myself included, have been demanding the state make the tough decisions. This is one of the things people have been demanding. I am not going to trust MJM in this but have no choice. It is clear where the power is in the state. Make no mistake about that. PQ can’t get anything done but MJM waves his magic wand and, poof, it is done. The GOP can sputter all they want. They have no power to propose, amend or defeat. Whatever comes out of Springfield is praised or blamed on the democrats. At least for now. We all must just wait and pray.

  86. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:45 pm:

    Jake from Elwood;

    “There are many in this economy who would gladly take a position with the State even if this bill becomes law.”

    That’s a silly way to assess whether a job pays what it should. There’s people who would work as CEO of Boeing or MillerCoors for $25k a year. Does that mean that those jobs should pay $25k a year?

    You get what you pay for, and scores of talented state employees took their jobs because of the retirement benefits. The state often was (and is) unable to pay salaries that compare favorably to what a similar worker would earn in the private sector. They attract their talent with their superior benefits job security. They are able to provide these superior retirement benefits in part because they cost LESS than private sector retirement benefits (and in part because the state employees have the good sense to unionize).

    In theory, this is a deal for the taxpayer. Talented employees at a discount from the private sector. The only catch is that you need to count on politicans to pay what they owe to the pension funds each year. This has been a problem. And this is where any fix should focus.

  87. - jaded voter - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:46 pm:

    Many public employees should not even have unions. Why should some slow, unattentive clerk shuffling behind the counter be protected by a union. How does that serve the public interest?

  88. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:48 pm:

    Poe asks one simple question and madigan, quinn, and a bunch of hacks take two and one half minutes and still can’t answer it.

  89. - lincolnlover - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:51 pm:

    jaded voter - So you want to go back to pratronage positions? There is no way that anyone with a college degree would want to work for the state without a union. Education and experience would get you NOTHING. We would be paid minimum wage and no benefits because you know what? Taxpayers make really cheap employers.

  90. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    He should be protected by a union because there are presumably intelligent people trying to treat him like a greeter at Wal-Mart. He should be protected by a union because it is his right. He should be protected by a union because he does not have the economic power to speak up for himself. Because there are people willing to take the job for minimum wage without benefits, despite the state’s ability to pay more. It serves his interest. It doesn’t have to serve the public interest.

  91. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 3:56 pm:

    *** 3:48 pm *** The House is now bebating the bill on Third Reading.

    Good word Rich. “Bebating.” That’s as good a word as any to describe what goes on in the General Assembly.

    I know, I know . . . bite me . . .

  92. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:02 pm:

    I can’t connect to the GA website. Anybody else having problems??

  93. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    It appears as though the GA’s website has crashed.

  94. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:06 pm:

    I think they did it on purpose.

  95. - fed up - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:08 pm:

    Does this bill cover police and fire employees. Right now the state police work 26 yrs and collect 80% of their salary until they die. What a scam!!

  96. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:10 pm:

    Crashed or intentionally yanked so no one hears the debate.

  97. Pingback Pension Reform Moves Forward; Obstacle to Tax Hikes Removed? | Illinois Alliance For Growth - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:11 pm:

    […] One of the chief obstacles to tax increases may be passed in the House.  Pension reform is at the top of the list of Republican demands for substantive reform before leaders will put any votes on an income tax increase.  According to Rich Miller it appears to be moving at this time: * 12:12 pm – As I already told subscribers this morning, Speaker Michael Madigan has moved a pension reform plan that is hotly opposed by the unions. The bill passed the House Personnel and Pensions Committee by an 8-2 vote. The two “No” votes were both Springfield-area Republicans, Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer. […]

  98. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:15 pm:

    Bravo to Kevin McCarthy, who’s been taking arrows for a year now trying to get this legislation together. And no way is the Velvet Hammer bluffing. This is going to get done, finally, and like health care, everybody can thank the Democrats for making it happen.

  99. - So. Ill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:16 pm:

    What the heck is with the feed!?!?!?

  100. - disgusted in chi boogie - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:17 pm:

    I think the entire website just went down.

  101. - Nikoli - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:19 pm:

    Thank God, I thought my computer was on the fritz. So the feed is down?

  102. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:19 pm:

    Fed Up: It covers police and fire employed by the state, but not those employed by local governments.

  103. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:21 pm:

    Under this plan, good luck recruiting experienced private sector attorneys to assume judicial positions and top quality college professors to teach at U of I and UIC!

  104. - dc - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:21 pm:

    I think the GA Web site crashed

  105. - interesting - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:25 pm:

    So a state trooper will work to age 67? Yes great law!

  106. - Help Please - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:28 pm:

    Can someone who works in the capitol or can otherwise hear the debate please live blog in comments? Much thanks.

  107. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:28 pm:

    Yeah, Bravo, Kevin!
    You wouldn’t even be in office if it wasn’t for the people you just stabbed in the back. You sure learned a lot being a lackey for Rod Blagojevich. Hopefully, you’ll end up just like him.

  108. - JoeDirt - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:30 pm:

    Need some updates with the feed down. You out there Rich?? This is huge.

  109. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:30 pm:

    So Madigan finally undertakes a serious reform that profoundly affects the state budget over the next several years, and the best the Republicans have to offer is magic beans? Pathetic.

    So far, here’s the plan. We have a budget deficit. The Democratic proposal is to cut spending through cutting the cost of the pension program and cuts to items that aren’t under federal mandate. Plus some Democrats favor raising taxes.

    The Republican proposal is to oppose spending cuts and oppose raising taxes while booking part of this year’s deficit as next year’s. Magic beans!

  110. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:31 pm:

    As I’ve said before, Democrats only need to put 36 votes on this bill…a majority of Democrats.

    If a majority of Republicans then vote for it, it passes, and Democrats get credit for passing bipartisan reforms.

    If the majority of Republicans vote against it, it fails, and Democrats blame Republicans.

    Its put your votes where your mouth is time, Tom Cross.

  111. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:32 pm:

    Interesting: It appears that the retirement age in the bill for police officers, firefighters and corrections officers employed by the state is 60.

  112. - dc - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:37 pm:

    Lawmakers are Tweeting that the House internet is down… sounds like a larger problem

  113. - JoeDirt - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:38 pm:

    A new teacher at age 22 will have to work 45 years to earn full retirement benefit at age 67. Anyone want to be a teacher now?

  114. - Duper - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:40 pm:

    JoeDirt, that’s not true. They only need to work 35 years to earn the full benefit. They have to wait until 67 to receive the benefit. It’s their choice to work the extra ten years for no additional pension benefit.

  115. - Montrose - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:41 pm:

    *A new teacher at age 22 will have to work 45 years to earn full retirement benefit at age 67. Anyone want to be a teacher now?*

    I am agnostic on this pension reform package, but working 45 years is what people do. Am I supposed to be outraged?

  116. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:43 pm:

    Who wants to bet that Maddie pulled the plug?

  117. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:44 pm:

    You would be outraged if you had a 67 year old teacher in your kid’s kindergarten class.

  118. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:44 pm:


    You may want to work 45 years but I don’t. There is a life other than work. I think if I have contributed to my pension and have reached a reasonable age that I should be able to retire. Age 67 is not a reasonable age.

  119. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:47 pm:

    Do you mean working 45 years from early September to early June; 5 days per week from 8:00am.-3:00p.m., with full benefits, and paid professional development days, etc.

  120. - Help Please - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:47 pm:

    And it passes - 92-17-7

  121. - RJW - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:49 pm:

    Quinn T. Sential:

    I am not a teacher but I know that what you just said is silliness and you should know that too. Most of the teachers I know work way more than 40 hours a week, buy their own supplies, and work evenings and weekends for school events.

  122. - dc - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:50 pm:

    Apparently it passed with 92 yes votes.

  123. - Nikoli - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:51 pm:

    I was taught Kindergarten by a woman that was in her 70’s. She was a kind and generous woman who did good by all of her students. I will always fondly remember Mrs. Jones as my first teacher.

    Just because a teacher is old, doesn’t mean they’re bad at their job and needs to be put out to pasture.

  124. - Anonymouse - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:55 pm:

    You would be outraged if you had a 67 year old teacher in your kid’s kindergarten class.

    Only if that teacher was male. If the 67 year old was a female, there’s no problem. Weird, eh?

  125. - George - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:55 pm:

    A) teachers don’t get to stop working at 3:00. They have lesson plans to develop, homework to grade, and other prep work that can’t get done at all from 8 am - 3 pm.

    b) They still have to work on paid professional development days.

    c) They really can’t take time off during the school year like you can, and often have to work sick. If they do take time off, they have to do all the prep work anyway, so most don’t bother taking off.

    d) They are working… constantly… on their feet… managing a class … for the entire day in front of unruly young children or hormonal children.

    e) meaning, they don’t have a cushy job like you where they can post on a blog all day long.

  126. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:55 pm:

    What this bill does is shift the cost of tremendously higher teacher salaries from the state to the school districts. We’ll see how many cheerleaders are left when their property taxes go through the roof to pay for this unfunded mandate.

  127. - Montrose - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:57 pm:

    *You would be outraged if you had a 67 year old teacher in your kid’s kindergarten class.*

    Nope. My kid’s 1st grade teacher this year is that age. She is fantastic. Having someone with those years of experience is a good thing.

    Again, not feeling the outrage.

  128. - Cindy Lou - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 4:59 pm:

    –”You would be outraged if you had a 67 year old teacher in your kid’s kindergarten class”.–

    I see I was beat to correct Bill, but my K tacher was 68 and my 4th grade teacher was 72. Think Miss Smith finally retired pushing 80. Back in my day, we did not get young teachers til high school and they were in their 30’s. Classroom size of 28 to 32 was not of unheard of back then either, though I much prefer the 18 to 20 my little one gets now, at the time of my larger classes parents did not know to think it awful.

  129. - State Employee - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:07 pm:

    Believe it or not some State Employees earn their benefits. Tacking a chance of getting assaulted, shanked or killed every second of a shift is a pretty good risk.

  130. - Tom - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:16 pm:

    Do you think Madigan will propose a new tired system for elected officials?
    I am not sure what this will save since he has not legally and properly funded the retirement system since he has been there.

  131. - Tom - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:20 pm:

    I don’t think age is an issue. Many teachers continue to teach into their 70s, but it needs to be a choice. If you force a teacher or anyone else to work longer it becomes a problem. Financial security gives you the ability to staff because you WANT to, not because you must!

  132. - Easy - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:21 pm:

    It will be interesting to see what field operations Madigan’s targets can put together without Afscme, seiu, ctu, ift, etc…

  133. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:26 pm:

    Maybe Madigan can have the Illinois Chamber and the Retailers Asociation make up the gaping hole in his war chest. They should really like him now that he has crossed over to the Republican side.

  134. - Bill - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:26 pm:

    I’m not going to insult the Republicans anymore.

  135. - Blue Dog - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 5:45 pm:

    At least for today, Bill.

  136. - Robert - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:08 pm:

    in light of these cuts, I wonder if the Dems will be bright enough to realize that a millionaire LG candidate might not be the right choice to talk about spending cuts

  137. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:08 pm:

    “Much of this is sour grapes from folks who aren’t in the public sector and got shafted by folks in the private boardrooms.”—anonymous 3:30 p.m.

    I agree!

  138. - Way South of the Border - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:13 pm:

    @anon 2:08pm: “The state as employer should be a model for the private sector.”

    So what’s the mechanism for this? Where is the state contract clause that requires a non-profit service provider or a for-profit materials vendor to provide their employees with adequate health insurance and a retirement plan?

    This argument is a flimsy riff on trickle-down economics. If state compensation practices are meant to lead the way, to “elevate” those of other sectors, where’s the altruistic, trans-sectoral energy behind this amazing notion?

    All I see and read here are (understandable) expressions of self interest. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

  139. - NIEVA - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:14 pm:

    This is fine with me as long as they don’t mess with people already on the plan. I am retiring in about 5 months and my plans are made. We have a these issues already at IDOT with the folks they hire for winter help. They work about 4 and a half months during snow season at an hourly rate approx. two thirds of regular workers. They receive no insurance,pension,or vacation time. People are standing in line for these jobs.

  140. - western illinois - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:26 pm:

    A lot of SEIU state workers who are paid hourly and on social security I dont see them rising up
    They endorsed Quinn and they have some private health plan but many will qualify for medicaid under the federal health reform
    Based on Riches fgure of 100 billion maybe this will prevent other benefit cuts and shift to 401k type stuff like Michigan workers have

  141. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:28 pm:


    That line-up at IDOT for the Snow Command jobs is only for show. The people actually filling those jobs first had to report to their Democratic Committeman, and demonstrate that they had mastered the “secret handshake”, before they were installed installed in the position. Once they effectively demonstrated the handshake they by-passed the line assembled at the front door by being let in the back way.

  142. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:41 pm:

    Republicans were twice as likely to vote against pension reform. 32% of Repubs voted No or Present, compared to 13% of Dems. So 68% of Rs voted Yes and 87% of Ds.

  143. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:42 pm:

    Bill, you’re channeling your pal Rod in your questioning of Madigan’s credentials as a Democrat.

  144. Pingback Boiler Room » Blog Archive » Shock and awe at the Statehouse - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 6:42 pm:

    […] In one of the videos posted today on the Capitol Fax Blog, a dude named John (couldn’t hear his last name or recognize the face) was testifying on behalf of the changes. Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, asked what workers are supposed to do between the year they rack up enough credits for a full pension at the age 67. John’s response was: “At age 67 their pension will be waiting for them. They can retire (without starting to draw their pension), take another job, do whatever.” […]

  145. - Union advocate - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 7:09 pm:

    Government employees do not get social security so their pension is the only retirement income. You can’t compare it to private sector 401K plans. Instead of bashing unions, consider that since unions have been pushed out of American life, the divide between the have’s and have not’s has increased. Do we really even have a middle class anymore? I think there’s a correlation. Also, instead of trying to take things away from working people, why not look at the politicians who use them as pawns and scapegoats for their political gain. It’s disappointing that we would rather blame union workers than look at the real problem of our tax structure

  146. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 7:09 pm:

    I fully expect the 50 years of savings from this plan to be consumed, evaporated, squandered or whatever by, say, 2011. And for people already on the old pension and those future retirees who will also collect under the old plan over the next few decades, the new hires won’t be contributing nearly as much to fund the plan. I guess it’s a necessary move in today’s environment, but more for perception purposes than anything because the damage has already been done by years of underfunding and budget gimmicks on the current system.

  147. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 7:20 pm:

    Way South of the Border:

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “mechanism”, because offering employees a reasonable pension that only costs 5.5% of the payroll is a clear and sensible mechanism to me. Prevailing wage laws are another. Minimum wage laws are another, etc. That there may be more that are or are not worth implementing doesn’t take away from the ones that currently exist.

    I never said that state compensation practices are meant to “elevate” those of other sectors. But in lower-paying sectors that is the effect they have. The more attractive a state job is, the more the private sector has to pay to attract talent for a similar job.

    I’m also not sure how you take this as a “riff on trickle-down economics”. State salaries and benefits don’t directly create or increase the wealth or number of people in the upper class. They increase the members of the middle class. And recent history shows a direct correlation between the strength and sizeof the middle class and the strength of the economy.

    Crain’s recently listed the biggest employers (by number of employees) in the Chicago area. Federal, State, and local government employers were the largest. So the benefits they provide are going to have an obviously large effect on what the private sector pays.

  148. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 7:37 pm:

    Ok, if I already have service credits in a state pension plan does this apply to me even if I am not an active employee?

  149. - Obamas' Puppy - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:19 pm:

    It was fun watching staff try to explain the bill. I think it was a constant stream of “I don’t knows” thats what happens when you do it the Madigan way.

  150. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:23 pm:

    Sorry this reform will do nothing to help the state improve financially. It is not the state employees fault that the state is in this mess it is the legislators who fail constantly at good stewardship of our tax dollars. Until we have term limits in place we will only be treading water.
    For those of you who think that people line up for state jobs really need to get a clue. Many job postings go unfilled because no one apply. The state is not the first choice for professionals who desire a high salary. But it was always the pension and benefits that attracted good qualified people. Now with the reduction in pension benefit the bar will be lowered. We went through this back in the early 90’s under Edgar. When the State’s pension was 48th lowest in the nation and it was adjusted upward to attract professional people.

    So you get what you pay for. And dont kid yourself it can get much much worse.

  151. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:36 pm:

    What a striking example of bipartisanship. They should hold a joint session for a round of kumbyah.

  152. - wondering - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:43 pm:

    how did Senator Brady vote?

  153. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:46 pm:

    Out all day; I get home and looky what they did!

    I think this may signal that Madigan plans to move the income tax increase in April. The unions are mad about this bill, but it’s a big gesture to the voters that serious cuts are being made. The unions will be appeased (somewhat) by a tax increase, so it has to move soon.

    If they make one tough vote, might as well make two. Cullerton’s tax increase is already sitting in the House (just like this bill was). He could pass as is or amend and pass.

  154. - Zoble21 - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:56 pm:

    That’s a GREAT IDEA!! I hope Madigan included future Reps in his plan. Remember, the fund is down because legislators “borrowed” from the fund. Illegal in the private world. Now lets find the money to offer an early retirement, only back fill essential positions, with the new pension plan in place we will save a bunch!!

  155. - illinois democrat - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:58 pm:

    I can’t find special education teachers now. This is only going to make the shortage worse. Remember that when your child does not have a qualified teacher in the classroom.

  156. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 8:58 pm:

    I guess I’ll send my thanks now to those GOP reps and Senators that voted the right way in support of this. That’s my idea of bipartisanship. More please.

    This is the kind of good day the General Assembly should have more often. Tough votes to address tough issues. Let the politics sort itself out later.

    Sorry if this sounds like union-bashing. It isn’t. A two-tiered system was inevitable. The federal government went down that road in the 1980s. Most large corporations have dumped pensions. Like Social Security, other pension plans are extremely expensive to sustain.

    It needed to be done, and it was done with careful attention to the details if not for the clock. Wow that passed quickly!

  157. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:11 pm:

    Someon wondered what lit a fuse under Madigan to ppush this today, and so fast? two words: susan garrett

    If Susan Garett voted yes,then this was about her reluctance to the tax increase and giving her cover. quinn couldn’t very well have someone as a runningmate who did not support him on that key fundamental issue. susan said more reform was needed before she would support a tax, so here was the reform. i bet you from this point forward she will be in favor of quinn’s tax proposal(s).

  158. - dupage progressive - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:15 pm:

    As possibly the only person down here with no “dog in the fight”, I have only one question from all the news & clips Rich did such a great job in gathering…
    Anyone LOVE the meticulous and graceful way in which MJM goes about blowing his nose? The unfolding of the hankie, finding just the right spot, doing his business & then of course, folding it up in the same exact way. The guy is so damn methodical. I think it’s just funny. Anyone agree?

  159. - Original Rambler - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:15 pm:

    1. As a Chicago resident, it always irritated me having to pay Chicago teachers pensions AND teachers throughout the State. Any step to put an end to that - thank you Rod for your part - is welcome.
    2. I don’t begrudge police & fire pensions, but when they start collecting and go to work at some other unit of local government, that’s double dipping and there should be a penalty for that. They’re collecting a pension and taking a job away from someone else who could use it more than they need it.

  160. - Bookworm - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:21 pm:

    “I think this may signal that Madigan plans to move the income tax increase in April.”

    I dunno about that. The vote today isn’t likely to outrage anyone aside from some of the public employee unions. The only question most voters would have about it is “What took them so long?”

    But a tax increase would be an entirely different story — especially if MJM moves it from being buried in committee to passed and signed in one day, before anyone knows what’s going on.

    Democratic pollster Pat Caddell said last week that he feared the Congressional vote on Obamacare — done hurriedly and aggressively, against the will of an electorate extremely distrustful of government — could prove to be a “Jonestown moment” for Dems and insure disastrous electoral losses for them in November.

    If MJM pushed a tax increase vote through in one day with no chance for any opposition to organize, he would in effect be leading his party to mass electoral suicide, and would ignite an inferno of opposition from voters that would make the conservative reaction to Obamacare look mild by comparison.

    The ONLY reason I can think of why he would do that, would be that he WANTS Quinn to lose in November, let Brady wear the jacket for all the fiscal pain of the next 4 years, and pave the way for Lisa to cruise to victory in 2014.

  161. - fedup dem - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:22 pm:

    Look, it only took Mike Madigan 27 years from when he first became House Speaker until he finally pushed some real legislation through. Better late than never, I guess.

  162. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:23 pm:

    Original Rambler:

    I assume you would like all Fortune 500 executives to immediately resign from their job. As well as anyone that is independently wealthy or has inherited a large sum of money, etc., since they are all “taking a job away from someone else who could use it more than they need it.”

  163. - bwana - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:26 pm:

    You folks are the best! bright,clever,calculated,sponateous etc. so lets all gather together for the Libertarians and win at three dimensional chess!!!

  164. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:26 pm:

    This bill means that the quality of the state’s workforce will eventually sink as low as that of its legislators.

  165. - crooked MJM - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:29 pm:

    I wonder how many of the gang at the capitol are squirming in reference to the lobbyist who was working with the feds. They are all probably purchasing wireless transmitter detectors.

  166. - JustaJoe - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:30 pm:

    It seems like there is very little going into this that considers what it takes to attract and retain a quality, ethical and dedicated governmental workforce, yet there is an expectation of receiving the best outcomes from it. Anyone that thinks that “outsourcing” is the solution for expert professional services must not be aware that, except for nuts-and-bolts things that the private sector already does and that can be precisely defined and bid, outsourced services cost more. So, as noted in the comments, who will want to be a teacher now?, or an engineer for the state?, or a professor?, or a doctor or a lawyer?, etc.? I’d rather see the legislators look at cutting the waste in useless pay-back contracts and in patronage fluff that is everywhere before degrading the incentives for a quality public-servant workforce. And if the public buys all the political noise at face value, then I guess they deserve what they get.

  167. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 9:36 pm:

    “I’d rather see the legislators look at cutting the waste in useless pay-back contracts and in patronage fluff that is everywhere before degrading the incentives for a quality public-servant workforce. And if the public buys all the political noise at face value, then I guess they deserve what they get.”

    i agree! the fact that this happened so fast and under the pretenses that it did suggest to me that pensions were viewed as a sacrificial lamb, while other things that need to be reformed immediately namely those that benefit the political leadership e.g. patronage and kick-backs are kept going safe out of the public’s eye.

  168. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:05 pm:

    Was this legislation a major necessity financially? Probably not. Was it absolutely necessary politically, and therefore inevitable? You betcha!

    Kind of a shame, since with a few exceptions state pensions are not overly generous, esp for the TRS and SURS folks who don’t get SS. And the reform does absolutely nothing for our current cash flow and budget problems, since we are already underpaying the state share of pension obligations by far more than $300M.

    Having said all that, it does reduce the rate of our hole digging. We should all watch carefully to make sure the “savings” aren’t pulled forward and used for current operating expenses. I expect that to happen, and we’re right back to the POBs; screwed in the out years.

  169. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:15 pm:

    RE: all of what what steve schnorf said…


  170. - Food for Thought - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:40 pm:

    Let me first say schnorf is right on.

    Second, let me ask a question. What is going to happen to employees contributions? Are they not based on a defined benefit? Are they not what has been supporting the system for years? Are they not negotiated based on a defined benefit?

  171. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:46 pm:

    “It’s also interesting that if you point a gun or a hose in municipalities or counties in this State you are not affected by this bill. That’s says a lot about the political clout of the police and fire unions.”

    How many nights, weekends, holidays, snowstorms, etc, etc, etc you work in your career? You ever go into a burning building to save a child, dodge traffic handling and accident in an ice storm?? Remember those “guns & hoses” folks are the one working when most of us are not. Many of us are fortunate to never need them but when we do, WE REALLY DO! Look up the life expectency of these folks in retirement. These folks earn & deserve decent pensions.

  172. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:49 pm:

    How does this fix the current pension deficit? The system is not in trouble over extravagant pensions, the system is in trouble because the state has been “borrowing” its contribution to balance the budget for almost 10 years.

  173. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:54 pm:

    All this does is ensure that in about 20-35 years someone will get to win the IEA-IFT endorsement by proposing an early retirement program that lets teachers quit early with full benefits and saves local districts/taxpayers millions by dumping thousands of school employees on the state “funded” pension system in their late 50s.
    If you think I’m wrong, check back in 2035 and prove it.

  174. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 10:55 pm:

    ===Bill, you’re channeling your pal Rod in your questioning of Madigan’s credentials as a Democrat.===

    Our beloved Speaker is a “conservative Democrat” (oh, long time no blog, Vannie). He has every right to question the Speaker’s allegiance to liberal principles.

    The other side of the coin is this: Who do you most entrust with the vitality of the Democratic Party? Talk about a double edged sword. I personally hope that Mr. Speaker has found out a way to advance our party through this process rather than alienate our most prized allies. Only time will tell.

  175. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:01 pm:

    Sorry for the double-post, Rich. But I must compliment Ms. Flaherty for her insight.

  176. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:19 pm:

    Bookworm, you wrote this …
    “If MJM pushed a tax increase vote through in one day with no chance for any opposition to organize, he would in effect be leading his party to mass electoral suicide …”

    So I take it you’re unaware that Madigan did just that in the 80s. One day tax increase. Clearly it destroyed the Democratic Party in Illinois.

  177. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:23 pm:

    Apologies again, Mr. Miller. But once again, I must compliment Ms. Flaherty for her insight.

  178. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:47 pm:

    Rich, be VERY careful about the fine print in this kind of bill.

    Remember a few years ago when people where “outraged” that teachers and administrators were getting two years of 20% raises prior to retirement for no reason other than bloating pensions?

    Well, the legislature acted decisively and “reduced” the pension bloating raises to “only” 6% compounded for four years.

    I couldn’t figure out why the unions weren’t screaming bloody murder, UNTIL I ran the numbers on how pensions AND early retirement costs to “buy years” were calculated.

    First, the pensions resulting from two years of 20% raise and four years of 6% raises were virtually identical, so there was no state savings there.

    The real kicker came when I calculated how much the early retirement penalty was changed. That’s
    when I found out why the unions actually WANTED the change.

    Early retirement penalties require the school districts to pay 23.5% OF THE HIGHEST INCOME YEAR IN THE LAST FOUR for each early retirement year, and the employee was supposed to pay 11.5% for each early year, but that was often picked up by the district.

    A teacher or administrator making $100K per year when they declared for early retirement would get two compounded 20% raise under the old rule, making the highest year pay $144K.

    The combined employee/district early retirement penalty for five years was $252,000.

    Under the new rule, the same early retirement would cost only about $221K, $31,000 LESS.

    Since the pensions were the same, this bill cost the state about $31K for each fully vested early retirement for a $100K teacher.

    I didn’t read a WORD about this in the MSM, or even capitolfax.

    For this change, I haven’t heard any union spokesperson out screaming about it or pickets filling the street as one would expect if something was actually being cut.

    That makes me think there’s another “surprise” that will wind up benefiting the unions, and hurting the taxpayers, in this package.

    When you find out what the trick is, Rich, please let us know!

    Under the new rule, the highest year

  179. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:56 pm:

    And, this is a good setup for a tax hike. The narrative is “We cut those overly generous pensions, but there still is not enough money.”

  180. - Amuzing Myself - Wednesday, Mar 24, 10 @ 11:59 pm:

    Enough with the “…they don’t get Social Security…” whining! Those employees that don’t receive social security benefits don’t have it taken out of their regular paychecks either! Red herring if there ever was one.

  181. - PalosParkBob - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 12:03 am:

    =So, as noted in the comments, who will want to be a teacher now?,=

    Justajoe, maybe they will be the people who REALLY enjoy teaching and love the kids and the profession, like they did back when the US education system was the best in the world.

    You find people doing it in the private schools all the time, because the money is FAR less than in public schools.

    I took a $60K per year pay cut from a job in engineering management to a job in teaching college and high school math and science in the late 90s.

    The rewards of the job, and the extra time I could spend with my young children, was well worth it.

    Try teaching at JC and seeing how even our most expensive public schools are failing our children, and teach at low cost PRIVATE schools and see what can be achieved by people who love teaching rather than the paycheck, and it’s almost impossible not to become a school reform activist.

    I substituted in 14 high schools and managed renovations for five years in some of the poorest, most challenged schools in the state for far less money than I could have gotten in the energy industry, but getting a lot done with very limited resources was really rewarding.

    To answer your question as to who will want a government job after the pension change,it will be the same two groups of people who have such jobs now; really dedicated people committed to public service,and people who are virtually unemployable in any other field.

    Nothing will really change as far as “quality” of employees.

  182. - IL in IL - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 12:33 am:

    Shame on Madigan and the gutless legislators in the House and the Senate! They threw state employees under the bus because they can’t run a state and fund pension obligations without sucking money from everywhere because they can’t govern. The legislators-turned-state-employees and the big kahunas that make the big bucks ruined it for the lowly state worker…what’s new? All the unions should denounce all of these legislators, withhold support and funds and help us all THROW THESE BUMS OUT! They are pitiful self-absorbed, power-hungry, self-serving jokes. Quinn should have tossed out Blago’s managers and Blago should have tossed out Ryan and Edgar’s managers. These agencies are full of overpaid administrators….as usual the front line, lower paid people will suffer. And, by the way, I DON’T work for the state. I left for better pastures because it sucks around there anymore!

  183. - Will County Woman - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 12:34 am:

    maybe i posted too soon because the AP has this:,general-assembly-pension-overhaul-032410.article

    “The most important thing you could do in pension reform is you have to make the payments,” said Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville. “You can’t skip payments. That’s what got our public pension systems into this mess.”

    thank you rep black for TRYING to inject some sanity and reality (by referring to the actual problem at the heart of the matter)into the euphoria and over hype surrounding all of this.

  184. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 12:58 am:

    anon: My words are my words. Your extrapolation is misguided. Taxpayers aren’t paying (at least I hope not) the CEO’s pension. Public vs. private - it matters.

  185. - OneMan - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 1:07 am:

    Guy has his head down for a big chunk of the day and some change happens….

  186. - dave - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 7:38 am:

    **Taxpayers aren’t paying (at least I hope not) the CEO’s pension. **

    Never heard of corporate welfare, eh? Corporations receive more subsidies in this country than the poor do.

  187. - anon - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 8:39 am:

    Does this bill apply to Chicago’s employees?

  188. - Heavy sigh - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    I could stomach these political actions taken under the disguise of good governance if they were appropriate and fair. Pension reform seems an appropriate response to the State’s poor fiscal condition. However, it seems wholly dishonest, beyond reprehensible and far from fair to approach this sad situation by applying a tax on state employees via their pension contributions and/or reduced benefits as a means of creating general revenue. Equally disgusting is the GA’s and PQ’s inability to cut spending, particularly for grants for things that even under better fiscal conditions are debatable, if not deplorable. Explore this year’s oh so lovely capital spending bill, where these grants are listed—nice work. Where’s the logic in that?

  189. - No SS - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 3:11 pm:

    Re: Amuzing Myself “Those employees that don’t receive social security benefits don’t have it taken out of their regular paychecks either!”

    Of course not, it’s taken out in place of social security. It’s not like we can opt out of this and it’s not like we haven’t each paid money into it. The reason this issue gets mentioned is that some pensions are in addition to what a person would earn from SS. For some of us in IL the pension replaces social security. Those that have SS will have that to fall back on as a defined benefit once they retire. Notice the feds are reluctant to reform that. Without SS the IL pension is our only source of guaranteed retirement income.

  190. - Forgottonian - Thursday, Mar 25, 10 @ 4:17 pm:

    Everyone here has been missing the the true reason this all came down like a ton of rocks… and why right now.

    Nothing to do, I’m afraid, with fiscal responsibility or state employees or even pensions. If you’ve been listening to the soundbites, MJM has already laid it out in plain speech: this is to attempt to prop up the bond rating in time for yet another bond sale we can’t afford. Why? My modest guess is to borrow enough cash to get past election day. A major move for something so petty as keeping their jobs, but, as they say, desperate times…

    This, I’m afraid, is just a continuation of four decades of self-preserving deadbeat legislatures enabled by clueless deadbeat voters.

    The state has not paid its obligations, will not pay its obligations, and will continue to shirk its obligations.

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