* As we learned yesterday, the pension reform bill has been shelved until the fall veto session…
Claims of strong-arm political tactics, numerous legislators with state facilities and public employees in their districts, and concerns about fairness sunk a bill that would have increased the amount current public employees would have to pay for their pensions. […]
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, a member of the House Republican leadership, said some GOP members were told by leaders in the Civic Committee, a group of chief executives from Chicago’s largest corporations, that they would face primary challenges for re-election, if they didn’t vote for the bill.
“Hopefully they learned something from this, that if you do want help implement change, top down may not be the best model,” Watson said. “Calling caucus members and threatening them — that doesn’t play well. Yes, they may have lots of money, but some of these members down here who just won have good relationships with people. They know what they need to do to service their districts.” […]
Another factor that contributed to the bill’s collapse was the strong opposition legislators heard at home from teachers and employees of state facilities in their districts.
* The Tribune editorial board’s anger was, surprisingly, somewhat subdued…
The point, though, is that we’ve seen this before. In the House, 65 votes for casinopalooza. But not enough votes for pension discipline.
We don’t fault Madigan and Cross. Their joint statement, issued with Civic Committee President Tyrone Fahner, indicates they will keep pressing for pension reform. It has been good to see Madigan and Cross work together this year to establish a spending level for the fiscal 2012 budget that’s more disciplined than what Senate Democrats and Quinn want.
But even with their combined efforts, Madigan and Cross couldn’t persuade a majority of their members to support pension reform, the most significant legislation in Springfield this year.
Lawmakers head into their final scheduled day of the spring session on Tuesday. Some of them think they dodged a bullet on pensions. They haven’t. Illinois has $85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Every family in Illinois is already on the hook for $42,000 in combined debt. That’s $42,000 and counting.
* But the pension bill wasn’t the only retirement-related proposal to bite the dust yesterday…
Retired state employees will not be required to pay premiums for their state health insurance for the foreseeable future.
Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, the principal architect of the legislation, said he does not plan to call the health insurance premium bill, Senate Bill 175, during the closing hours of the spring session. […]
Schoenberg said his intent was to target people who retired from upper-income state jobs before they reached 65, the age when they would be eligible for Medicare. Those employees would also likely be receiving larger pensions and able to afford paying premiums for their health care, according to Schoenberg.
The plan under consideration, though, would have charged premiums to retirees with pensions less than $15,000 per year. Even retirees with pensions between $35,000 a year and $50,000 a year could have paid from $5,882 to $1,476 annually for state health insurance.
* Push to cut government worker pensions fizzles at Capitol
* State pension push stalls
* Some Illinois public school teachers earning six-figure salaries
* More unpaid furlough days for Cook County workers