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Major media pension coverage so far today

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

* Subscribers know a whole lot more about what’s going on with pension reform and what to expect, but let’s check the existing coverage as of this writing. SJ-R

Under the legislation, which would not apply to the state’s judges:

– Employees and retirees will be offered a choice between having access to a state health care plan upon retirement and having their raises count toward their pensions, or keeping the 3 percent compounded annual cost-of-living adjustment that they have today. If they choose to keep retiree health care and pensionable raises, their COLA will be one-half of the urban consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is less. The COLA will not be compounded.

– If employees and retirees choose the lesser COLA, they will not receive it until age 67 or 5 years after they retire, whichever comes first. This will affect employees who have already retired. Nekritz gave this example: An employee retires at age 55; he or she is now 58 and chooses the new COLA. The new COLA will not kick in until the retiree reaches age 60 and he or she will be without a COLA for the next two years.

– The bill will phase in a shift of the normal pension costs for teachers and university employees to school districts, state universities and community colleges. The normal cost is the total benefits accrued by active employees for the current fiscal year.

– The legislation will have an immediate effective date upon Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature, but employees will be given an unspecified period of time to decide which choice they want to make. Still, the effective date is important. If the legislation passes, some employees have speculated that the courts might strike down the provisions that apply to those who have already retired but uphold them for those who had not yet retired when the governor signs the bill.

* Tribune

Efforts to develop a plan for comprehensive reform of public employee pensions hit a snag Monday as opposition intensified over a provision to shift retirement costs for suburban and Downstate teachers onto local school districts.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has said the cost shift from state taxpayers to local school property taxpayers should be part of any proposal to curb unsustainable costs for a state worker pension system that is the most underfunded in the nation. A pension bill could come up for a vote as soon as Tuesday as lawmakers scramble to finish their work before a Thursday night deadline.

But even a top member of Madigan’s Democratic leadership team said pushing costs on overburdened suburban property taxpayers is “craziness.” […]

Senate Republicans also said there were attempts to make local school districts — and local taxpayers — make up for any increase in the unfunded liability of the teachers’ retirement system in the future, even if it was caused by a lower return on investments.

* Sun-Times

The plan will not apply to judges in order to sidestep any potential constitutional challenges over separation of powers. Judges in the past have successfully sued to block efforts by the Legislature to withhold cost-of-living increases.

The measure also will not contain any of the changes Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought for the city’s pension systems during a trip to Springfield in early May.

* Daily Herald

While the Illinois Constitution bars a reduction in pension benefits, retirees would be given a choice to either take the less-generous annual pension bumps or potentially lose access to state-funded health care — a benefit Nekritz says isn’t protected by the constitution.

“There’s nothing that protects that,” she said.

The choice that would be given to employees and an accompanying contract, supporters argue, would make the plan constitutionally legal.

Union officials have not agreed to the plan offering those choices, and the Illinois Education Association has been pushing its members to call lawmakers to protest the changes for days.

* Watch the House committee debate, which begins at 9

Embed removed because hearing is over.

…Adding… You should also follow along on the live blog. Speaker Madigan is testifying as I write this at 9:07.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Rich - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:11 am:

    As I posted in another section, what about the retirees who participated in the 2002 ERI. There was an oral contract that is now being ignored. Come on fellow ERI participants, let our voices be heard now. Call your Legislators, Governor and AFSCME, now. Lets try to get a concession before it is too late.

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:13 am:

    ===There was an oral contract===

    Good luck with that one.

  3. - Choice? - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    The option of sacrificing the health care subsidy seems to punish people that are disabled or have a pre-existing condition.

  4. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    You don’t have any friends in labor, Elaine.

  5. - Choice? - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:23 am:

    Excluding the Judges Retirement System seems to smell of unconstitutionality. And the GAs attempt to get it passed the court challenges.

  6. - TCB - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:24 am:

    So they’re changing the 90% by 2045 to 100% by 2043……this is just silly.

  7. - cassandra - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    I think the assumption that the choice makes this change is constitutional is an awfully big one, especially as regards current retirees. You can’t “voluntarily” give up your constitutional rights, even if you want to. Perhaps with respect to future benefits for current employees. That seems to be what often happens in the private sector-they freeze the pension plan and change the benefits from there on out.

  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    As Samuel Goldwyn said, an oral contract is not worth the paper it’s written on.

  9. - State employee - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:30 am:

    SURS employes starting paying extra for their cola–not sure of the year. I know my payments were bumped up shortly after I began working to cover my cola in retirement.

    Where is the sacfrice from the top 1% of the Civic Club.

    They don’t care about the poor and medicaid recipants. The nurses have a great idea on feeing their financel transactions.

    Where is the sacrifice ofthe judges and the legislature? Why don’t we just change Edgar’s law to 70% anyway?,0,7309082.story

    Their pension is much more generous than mine. They give up and sacrifice and I’ll will too.

    There is plenty of revenue to be found without raising property taxes and putting fees on the middle class or poor.

  10. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    Nektritz said pain for all isnt that a diminishment
    SURS has been paying for COLA 24 years…
    Oral Contracts are contracts
    There may be ADA issues I had not thought of that one before

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:47 am:

    ===Oral Contracts are contracts===

    If that’s your argument, you’re in big trouble, man.

  12. - Mouthy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    I have to quit listening on “Let me tell you a story….

  13. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    I have one big question.

    Background - Madigan et al. have stated that the one big monkey on the state’s back is the effect of the 3% COLA’s for existing and future retirees. Nekritz says the COLA for all except judges is not constitutionally protected.

    Question - if the COLA is the big deal, and it is not constitutionally protected, why not just enact a unilateral reduction to 1% or so going forward, with annual adjustment to be at the whim of the GA. Why tie the health care coercion to this move unless there was nervousness of the constitutionality of an involuntary COLA reduction?

  14. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:55 am:

    The COLA is not an oral contract. Neither is health care. Active employees have been paying a significant per cent of payroll for both of these. It has already been paid for. The state has taken money and now wants to renege.

  15. - foster brooks - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:58 am:

    So by excluding the judges are the GA saying they can be bought? well this is illinois lol

  16. - Teamster - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    The unions must file an unfair labor practice petition with the Illinois Labor Relations Board against the state on how the legislature is direct dealing with the unionized employees. This is illegal since all of the proposed changes need to be collectively bargained for the unionized workforce. This end round attempt by the legislature will certainly crash and burn in the courts. Another question comes to mind as to how can the unions bargain for retirees since they are no longer active members of the union. I for one will retire in 122 days from now at 55 years of age. I will receive my first check October 1st of 2012 and a Teamster Pension on October 1 2014, Social Security on October 1, 2019 and another Teamster Pension on October 1 2022! Four streams of retirement and why? Because I worked for it and paid into the systems. What a great country we live in. Work hard and you shall be rewarded with your fruits of labor. It was the state and City of Chicago that reneged on the contributions to the funds. Why should I pay again once I am retired. See you in court Stae of Illinois and City of Chicago because I will be the first to file since I kept up my end of the bargain and you failed to do the same.I

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    ===This is illegal since all of the proposed changes need to be collectively bargained for the unionized workforce.===

    As I have repeatedly pointed out, state law specifically prohibits collective bargaining on pension benefits.

  18. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    Nothing wrong with 70 or even 65 but it seems the rating agecies rule Illinois now
    As to voluntary -members of the GA who vote yes would be voluntary….
    Asuming ACA is constitutaional a cash off to leave the state system for the ACA pools would be a non gunto the head choice

  19. - Rich - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:09 am:

    Bill, my comments concerning Oral Contract pertain to the Early Retirment Incentive. The State agree to give me, my current pension benefits and health care if I retired. I have lived up to my part of the bargain.

  20. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:09 am:
    No the COLA for SURS would be written and its been paid in and I think it was collective bargaining. I dont know what the oral contrct was I am just saying in may cases courts have upheld oral contracts. I dont know about the first claim

  21. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:11 am:

    I agree. This whole thing will be thrown out eventually if it passes.

  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    ===Pension enhancements are bargained with the employer and than approved by the legislature.===

    Not for state workers. Look up the statute.

  23. - former Illinoisan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    The state probably can cut retiree health benefits, as it has already done with recent legislation. But the notion that it can SELECTIVELY cut health benefits as punishment only for those pension system participants who refuse to waive their contractual rights to 3% annual increases is problematic, and unlikely to be upheld by the courts. Think this through rationally for a minute: if the State of Illinois can do that, what would prevent the Federal Government from offering holders of U.S. Treasury Bonds a similar “choice”, i.e. accept greatly reduced coupon interest payments or we will cut you off Social Security and Medicare? If the state can retaliate against someone for exercising a contractual right, then contracts have no meaning. And just to be clear, the 3% annual pension increase is a contractual right, because it has been in the pension code since 1990 and SURS members, for example, have specifically paid 0.5% of their salary each year since then in order to receive these increases in retirement.

  24. - Enemy of the State - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    Madigan’s idea of choice for retirees gets down to a coin flip, “Heads I win, tails you loose.” Machiavelli would be proud.

  25. - Cindy Lou - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:34 am:

    Coercion comes to mind.

  26. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    ===tails you loose.===

    The word is “lose.”

    Sorry, but that’s a pet peeve of mine.

  27. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    TRS actives have paid into the TRS Insurance program. So, how can you be denied insurance access when you have paid into the program? How about a third option–keep the COLA and participate in the health insurance but pay an amount for the insurance based on pension?

  28. - Choice? - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    The simple fact that choosing the new pension option doesn’t guarantee 100% health care subsidy but leaves the premium amounts in the hands of CMS will probably scare most people away.

  29. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    Nearly Normal - I agree a variation of your idea seems to be the most reasonable and constitutional solution. Why it hasn’t gotten better play or consideration, don’t know.

  30. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Retirees? Really? Even Ty Fahnor and the Civic Committee didn’t attempt that (SB 512). Of course he’s all for it now. Retirees paid for their pensions, they earned them. We’re not talking entitlement here. When they retired, they did so by relying on the rules that were in effect at the time they accepted the annuity. They and their families relied on the promise of the payment of the premium for healthcare for the retired employee. While they were active employees, even the more highly paid employees only paid a premium of about $100/month for Cigna, the state’s PPO option. SB1313, already passed, leaves nebulous, what the premiums for retirees will be now in order to stay in the plan, and now this proposed pension bill forces a choice between giving up the 3% compounded COLA, which SURS participants pay/paid for in each paycheck while employed, or forgo any participation in the state’s health plan at all for either them, or their family. As one speaker in opposition to the bill stated in the committee hearing, that’s a choice between death by rifle, or death by shotgun, and the legislators should make no mistake, supporting this bill means they’re pulling the trigger.

    There is no phase in for this Hobsen’s choice either; make a decision by a future date certain, or you will default to a diminishment of your COLA.

    I,for one, will not be coerced, and will rely on the courts to protect my earnings from the theft being written into this unjust bill.

  31. - Pete Granada - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    Rich, thanks for setting up the committee feed. Once again morality was on the side of the heaviest artillery. It was painful to watch.

  32. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:43 am:

    former Illinoisan’s legal analysis is spot-on.

    There is a sound legal argument that the only way to change pension benefits is to offer pension members a choice or inducement to alter the contract.

    However, this legislation is coercive, and coercion is not a choice.

    If the Illinois Supreme Court rules that it does not retroactively reduce pension benefits, but is only prospective in nature, there is absolutely nothing to prevent it from being extended to judges next year.

  33. - reformer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:50 am:

    Speaking in favor of the cost shift, Madigan said, “responsibility for our actions is what we strive to live under. When one person can spend money and send the bill to someone else, that’s not responsibility — that’s un-American.”

    Yet the Speaker has been responsible — more than any other official — for decades of underfunding the pension system and spending those state funds on something else. Now Madigan wants to give the bill to someone else — the retirees. Now THAT’s un-American!

  34. - East Sider - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    I was reading some of HB 5078, and it appears to end the practice of county officials double dipping the IMRF pension, by combining salaries as a county elected official and simultaneously as a township elected official to calculate pensions. That practice is rampant down here in the Metro East. I can’t tell if it only applies to people doing it going forward, or if it will affect existing office holders who are banking on a nice pension pay out in a few years.

  35. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Still no guarantee that the state will pay its share. This is ALL pointless with that guarantee. So what if the Attorney General and investigate and prosecute?? If its ultimately up to the General Assembly to budget enough money, what’s the point??

  36. - Annon - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:04 pm:

    So now we have our very Ethical House and Senate members and the governor attempting to bribe the judiciary to get a ruling in the Governors favor by excluding the judges from bills that abbly to all other state employees!!!

  37. - Annon - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    Sorry, the comment above should have been ‘apply to all other state employees’.

  38. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:10 pm:

    “The plan will not apply to judges in order to sidestep any potential constitutional challenges over separation of powers.”

    I’m wondering if carving the judges out of this plan is actually a crafty means of heading off a mass recusal of the entire Illinois judiciary for unavoidable conflict of interest if and when any passed pension reform is contested in court. Last thing these players want is for any legislation in this area to be tested in a more independent federal judiciary that does not run for re-election.
    This is good Machiavellian stuff. Pension reform is passed pre-election. Then the Democratic controlled Illinois court system throws everything out in a year or so. Everyone is happy again except the private sector taxpayers who have to wait longer and longer to retire, if at all.

  39. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:10 pm:

    So if the judges are included, they sue based on separation of powers. If they are not included, the others sue based on denial of equal protection and special legislation. Law firms already have spent the fees.

  40. - Anne J - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    excluding the judges…hmmmm……sounds like bribery and corruption. Oh yes, this IS Illinois. Any judge that does not see this as a bribery attempt is corrupt.

  41. - east central - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    A likely outcome is that normal pension costs shift to school districts and to universities and that alterations of pension benefits are ruled unconstitutional. The dubious constitutionality is probably recognized by almost everyone, despite their public pronouncements.

    So the package would seem to be a vehicle for getting enough votes to shift the normal costs to school districts and universities. Moving the normal costs obviously helps the State budget directly. The shift of normal costs further reduces the pension funding problem by taking district/university money away from employee raises which in turn will lower the salary/wage basis on which all pensions are calculated.

    So no matter how this turns out it looks like a win for most Chicago Democrats who ultimately will have more State funds available to them.

    But the shift of normal costs seems like a very bitter pill for almost everyone outside of Chicago, especially given the likelihood that the courts are going to reject provisions that diminish pensions thereby increasing normal costs.

    Will it be surprising if many legislators outside of Chicago vote for it?

  42. - SIUPROF - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    I fail to see what consideration is being offered as a result of the choices being set up. You may have healthcare (I already have it being a 31 year state employee) if you choose the reduced COLA. In addition if you choose the reduced COLA your future raises will be part of the annuity computation (Future raises are counted now).

    To me it is like I have a dollar in my pocket, but someone is saying you can have a quarter or a nickle. That is not a choice, nor is it consideration. Consideration is not recognized when someone agrees to do what they are already legally bound to do.

  43. - illilnifan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    Hate to say it, but the oral contract for health insurance for ERI retirees does not hold….I remember being told that even under ERI health insurance access is not guaranteed. My concern is they get the concession, but if this works what is the next pound of flesh they will extract when this plan does not work. If a retiree who is eligible for Medicare, it would be silly to opt out of the COLA. Keep it and pay the cost of a Medigap policy. The compounded COLA in the long run works out to a lot more each month. Do a spreadsheet and you will see the impact over 10-15 years.

  44. - over the top - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:33 pm:

    For state employees, the pension code currently states that your pension is based on the highest 4 consecutive years of your last 10 years of state service. Wouldn’t freezing your pension based on your current salary be a diminishment of that benefit?

  45. - Retiree running the numbers - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    Amendment 3 bases the “calculated” COLA on the “originally granted retirement annuity.” Anyone have an idea how it will work for those of us who took the level payment option?

  46. - Palos Park Bob - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    So, is there any chance that this legislation will contain a “poison pill” that will be certain to get it overturned after the next election? The primaries aree over, so Madigan and Cullerton don’t need to be worried about challenges from “labor” candidates.

    Personal opinion? We should have a progressive system of costs and fees for current and future retirees. Those receiving total pensions of less than about $50K (and not working another job) should not be charged more. On the other hand, if a “retiree” is working a second public career, or working as a consultant to a Federal, state or local govenment, they should pay an increasing amount until at about $80K they pay the full insurance cost and COLAs are limited to 3% or CPI, whichever is less. This puts the burden where it belongs..those using the pension programs as a subsidy for second careers and pensions higher than their worth when they were employees!

  47. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:01 pm:


    Ran the COLA figures on the amount shown recently ($50,000) in the paper. Rounding down to a $4150 monthly pension ($49,800) I calculated a 3% compounded and a 1% always based on the first year. This was done in a spreadsheet with no rounding so they are not precise, but very close. After 20 years, here is the monthly and annual pension.

    3% compounded: 7,495 monthly, 89,940 annually
    1% on first year: 4,980 monthly, 59,760 annually

    Cumulative reduction in pension around $275,000 over 20 years.

    Is that a no-brainer?

  48. - Jmm1983 - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:07 pm:

    How about refund all my TRIP money since I’m electing to keep 3% COLA.

    IfTRIP premiums are refunded, what shape will TRIP be in?

  49. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    In addition to contributing for health care, TRS active members, like SURS’, also make a specific contribution for post-retirement increases and have since 1969.

    As others have said, this sounds much more like coercion than consideration and as such is going to be a strong court case for the aggrieved retirees, old AA included.

  50. - PublicServant - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    Hey Bob, I played by the rules for 32.5 years. What I do in my retirement is none of your business. If the state has a job that needs to be done, why shouldn’t I be able to apply for it and be considered on my qualifications regardless of having worked for the state before? You and I as taxpayers would be paying no more than if someone else took the job, and quite possible may be paying less.

  51. - reformer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    If the House rejects the Madigan cost shift, then the Rahm shift may come up for a vote. That would be shifting the pension cost from Chicago schools to the state, since the House doesn’t want schools to bear that cost. That second vote would give members a chance to cast a vote based upon principle.

  52. - illilnifan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:25 pm:


    Thanks for the data calculation…I had done the same calc yesterday when I heard this was an option and came up with the same no brainer conclusion that you came up with…hope everyone does the calc for themselves as well.

  53. - Mark - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:36 pm:

    This state is so legally corrupt.

  54. - sadie - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:45 pm:

    For teachers pensions - why should a school district pay 1%, teachers around 9 or 10% and the state almost 90% - when the state has no controll over the teachers salaries - who was paying when the teachers pension system went close to bankrupt in the early 90’s and the state bailed it out? That system was not under the state as it is today.

  55. - Liberty_First - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    sadie- you have the numbers confused. The school district and teacher put in about 10% of salary every year for the duration of employment. The state is supposed (under law) put in about 6% of salary during that time. More than half of the pension problem is due to the state not paying its share.

  56. - Liberty_First - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:11 pm:

    Also sadie - the state has run the pension systems since the 1960s and has an exemption so no social security is paid for teachers…. the state has not even contributed the 6.5 percent amount they would have to pay under social security.

  57. - East Sider - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:14 pm:

    ==What I do in my retirement is none of your business. If the state has a job that needs to be done, why shouldn’t I be able to apply for it and be considered on my qualifications regardless of having worked for the state before?==

    Sorry, but a pension is for a retiree for the system. It wasn’t set up for people to double-dip and enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense. If you’re drawing a public pension, you shouldn’t be able to then draw another public salary.

  58. - Liberty_First - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:16 pm:

    This is a real looser for someone under 60….

  59. - Liberty_First - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:18 pm:

    I did that just to bug Rich :)

  60. - anon - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:36 pm:

    Those of us with pre-existing conditions or children with pre-existing conditions have no choice, so how can this be constitutional?

  61. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:40 pm:

    “SERS Executive Secretary Tim Blair says more than 4,000 state workers will retire in the fiscal year that ends June 30. That’s up more than 40 percent from last year’s roughly 2,750.”

    I pulled this from AP last month. I presume the same is happening in the other 600 plus government retirement systems at the county and local gov levels. Seems that cutting Medicaid, increasing income taxes and the likely jump in property taxes won’t be enough to absorb the spike in payouts as this runaway train accelerates. Does anyone have state and local gov pension cost projections going out five years counting accelerated retirements? Assume the Illinois court system disallows all legislative attempts at modifying benefits for current employees and retirees.

    Read more:

  62. - wizard - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:45 pm:

    At the risk of being banned. I am adamantly opposed to any changes for current retirees as long as the state is paying one single penny for illegal persons in the state. I believe those expenses are quite high. While illegals may be very good people, they are still here illegally and should not cost citizens money.

  63. - titan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:01 pm:

    I would think the judges could easily see that if the current plan is passed, and upheld, it will be applied to them in a fture legislative session.

  64. - Mark R. - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:12 pm:

    @Cook County: If you are looking for information on the County pension fund you can find it here:

  65. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:13 pm:

    What if we don’t replace the 4,000 retirees and put their salaries toward funding pensions?

  66. - wizard - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:19 pm:

    anon 3:12pm in many agencies they have not been replacing people for years. they have not replaced my position (retired 12.31.11) and the agency is way behind in fulfilling its requirement. There are only three people to do the job of four for the entire state except for Cook and the collar counties. There are only so many hours in the day, so it cannot physically be done by three. So what happens to service when 4,000 retire? And my position was not service, it was bank regulation. Do you wish the banks to go without regulatory supervision? My old agency wishes to fill the positions vacated by me and others but the current administration will not authorize it.

  67. - illilnifan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:30 pm:

    They haven’t caught up since 02….when I left I had a staff of 110 with a DHS local office. They were expected to meet the needs of 80000 cases. Today the same office has a staff of 70 to meet the needs of 160000 cases. Now another round of retirements….good luck in implementing all the tougher Medicaid rules etc. And the public wonders why there is fraud.

  68. - Capitol View - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:56 pm:

    giving the same COLA every year without cumulative effect is no COLA at all. In 10 or 15 years, the buying power shinks to non-sustainable.

  69. - Palos Park Bob - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    =What I do in my retirement is none of your business.=

    Actually, if you expect me to pay for it, it IS MY BUSINESS! The state’s citizens created and supported this “retirement” program because we wanted to be fair to government employees. When their working days were through, we wanted them to be able to live comfortably at 70-80% of their base salary, which at one time was lower than the private sector worker performing the same services. There was NEVER public support for the pension program to be a second job subsidy for an employee too young to retire. We started this program with good intentions, but through corruption and greed in Springfield, schools and municipalities this system was sucked dry and now those whom we originally created the system to serve are being made to the bear the brunt of the suffering.

    What we need to do is get back to what a retirement program SHOULD be,a fair way to support a well deserved retirement without undue hardship for employees in their mid to late 60s.

    No spiking.

    No “double dipping”.

    No “consulting on pension”.

    We’ll see what we need to do to get there, and follow through and remove the parasites in Springfield who are destroying the system.

  70. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 4:55 pm:


    How would you deal with the people who were basically asked to leave in the 2002 ERI because the State was supposedly going to save money by not replacing them or hiring cheaper people. Some of us weren’t really ready to retire that young, but it made zero ecomonic sense to keep working 5 or 6 additional years and then receive the same benefit offered under the ERI that day. Us “old timers” were pretty much bribed to leave by the General Assembly, who wanted to shift the cost of a bunch of employees from the GRF to the pension fund. They got their cost shift / savings in the GRF salary line item.

    Since the State is reneging on the retirement deal, what if we want to renege on our retirement? Are you going to reinstate us in our former jobs at our former salaries?

  71. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:08 pm:

    It’s all coming into focus now. If you take the time to read the bill, notice that the amendment has multiple references to a health insurance trust as a possible sucessor to the current group health plan. That’s a clue the State is planning to stick it to the retiree big time.

    Under current ACA rules for grandfathered employer provided health insurance, the employer (read State) can’t lower their contribution more thna 5% and can’t significantly change things like benefits, co-pays, etc. In other words, pretty much status quo for employer provided plans until the ACA is fully in effect in 2014.

    The one exception is when the health insuance “group” is all retirees; then there is no protection. All that “trust” language signals the State’s intention to remove retirees from the State employee group health plan and create a seperate healthinsurance plan composed only of retirees. That’s also why the language in SB1313 delegates all the rate setting to CMS, so they can figure out how to set up that seperate plan(s).

  72. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:13 pm:

    This whole thing is making me really angry. I thought I had gotten over the betrayal but as the time arrives for the “deal” I find I am hopping mad again.

    To the state workers and retirees out there- you know how it feels.

  73. - wizard - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:18 pm:

    dupagedave-i did excelled in my job (one complaint in 23 yrs when you are a regulator?) and did what was asked. (averaged 75 nites in motels/yr-106 nites one yr). i expect the state to pay what was agreed. would love to have the speaker come to my backyard alone for a private discussion. he would leave with a different point of view.

  74. - wizard - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:21 pm:

    my bad-remove “did”

  75. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:47 pm:

    The more I read of the bill, the more interesting it gets.

    If a employee or retiree does nothing, the default choice is keep the 3% COLA compounded with no health insurance on retirement / no future raises counted. That tells me the real cost they are trying to nail is the health insurance since they will let you keep the compounded COLA.

    In addition, if less than half of the eligible participants / voters choose the lower COLA deal w/guarenteed (?) health insurance access, then the State’s promise to 100% fund the pensions by 2043 doesn’t count and they go back to the 90% funding ramp-up currently in existence.

  76. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 6:07 pm:

    Another little gem … if the State itself in writing or one of it’s representatives, either in writing or verbally, gives you bad informaiton about the bill and your choices, too bad. The State has made itself immune from offering advice about this irrevokable choice.

  77. - wishbone - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 6:43 pm:

    “So what happens to service when 4,000 retire?”

    The people of the state by refusing to raise taxes are saying they don’t want as many services as are being offered. They are the ultimate bosses. Services will be cut. Arguing that a certain level of services is sacrosanct is like saying you have to buy a gallon of milk everyday even if you don’t like milk.

  78. - anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 6:47 pm:

    Of course I’m going to take the COLA option. Give up potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars?


    Moreover, up to this point, I was willing to pay in more to help. But now — after hearing all these plans and realizing that even if I sign the paper there’s no guarantee it’ll change yet again (10 years down the road) — there’s no way I won’t take the option that costs the state the most $$$.

    Compounded COLA? Count me in. It’s a no brainer.

    What raises? I don’t *get* raises. So why do I care whether or not my raises will count? Big deal. I’m making a salary that’s going to stay the same for years. Plus — and get this — I can’t even use my state insurance anyway. Why in the world would I want state insurance? Doctors dread it. They want payment up front. They whine, they complain how they won’t get paid for months.

    So okay. I’ll take my frozen salary, take my COLA, and the state can forget about any so-called “insurance” that’s not worth the card it’s printed on.


    Bitter? Yeah — the politicians are ripping off the people that paid, ripping off the retirees, and worrying about getting re-elected.

  79. - public policy person and lawyer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 7:25 pm:

    In Cook County, we pay .5% every paycheck for our colas. 40 ILCS 5/9-133. Can’t you guys find a similar provision in the State pension code? And why aren’t the judges included? I have not heard a separation of powers argument clearly articulated. If the legislators are worried about Jorgenson v. Blago, that case was about colas for annual pay increases while in office, not retirement colas. I agree that an equal protection argument would be available for all other State employees. Just disgusting. Judicial pension fund is the worst funded.

  80. - Wonderbar - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 8:19 pm:

    There is a separate, additional state constitutional provision that protects judges’ compensation. Additionally, there is a supreme court case that expressly protects judges’ COLAs.

  81. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 8:22 pm:

    Jorgenson v. Blago was about diminishing elected officials compensation in the middle of a term. The courts said you can’t. That’s why you strike now with the GA system. All 177 seats are up. And that’s among the reasons why you leave the judges out, because some are midterm and could use the Jorgenson decision to upend it all.

  82. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 8:23 pm:

    SURS pays 3% for COLA so that should be a direct legal challange ppp and lawyer Soomeone said TRS does too.
    I think this was just a tranparent attempt to mollify the judges who were included in retiree health bill. The reitred judges are planning to sue I assume those judges will argue its still a contract (it was in a labor contract). Cleary not every contract and its benefits have to be mentioned in the the Illinois Constitution.
    I am suprised no lawyers here have expressed concern what something like this says about contracts and the threat to the rule of law in general

  83. - park - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 8:30 pm:

    Thank God State employees have these wonderful Chicago D’s protecting their rights. Go Obama!

  84. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:02 pm:

    They sure as h*** better have these choices CLEARLY spelled out if we have to decide on them. My head is spinning. I guess the State loves gambling sooo much, not only are wanting to add more ways/places to do it, now they want the state employees to take a gamble on which path might be better for them.

  85. - public policy person and lawyer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:11 pm:

    @Wonderbar. I am not interested in cases protecting judicial compensation. What case or statute protects their RETIREMENT colas? Name them. Will read then comment. @Michelle. I know what Jorgenson says. I do not get your comment at all. Who can upend what? @western illinois. Try to find the exact provision if it exists. And you should know that the County proposal for reform is to diminish County retirement colas even though we pay for them. LOL! @park. Dems in Chicago proceed like Republicans. They all should be ashamed of themselves. And guess what! I agree that suburban and downstate school districts should pay their fair share. Why am I paying twice? Best thing that I ever heard Madigan and Cullerton say.

  86. - Jechislo - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:15 pm:

    The COLA comes out of the pension fund. The retiree insurance comes out of the general fund. So, keeping my COLA costs the State nothing from the annual budget. It saves the State all of the insurance money. Which brings up another point. Remember a decade or two back when the State decided to become ’self insured’ so they could reap all of the enormous profits like the insurance companies providing coverage to the State employees? Well, they spent all of the savings and now can not afford to be a self insurer anymore. They won’t live up to the law and fund the pensions. So, they stick it to the retirees.

    I think Madigan knows that this hat-trick against retirees will never hold up in court. It’s all posturing. But, those still working for the State are going to get it broke off in their you-know-what.

    So, how long are all of you going to continue voting for these Democrats?

  87. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:31 pm:

    I would only note that if this plan fails, what do you think the Plan B will be. I have a feeling it’s not going to be kinder to public sector workers. Look up Rep. Cross’ ideas on pension reform headed into this session. If this goes down, I’d love to see the speaker call that and see how many HGOP are on board. So after about 18 months of claiming Madigan is blocking pension reform, you might see a series of votes in which the House Republicans block pension reform.
    Cross is looking for a double jump while MJM positions for checkmate.
    Too f’ing funny

  88. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:41 pm:

    PPP and Lawyer I am trying to find out. It sound slike Cook is trying to do same thing to you. You will win on it.
    Micelle F I am trying to figure out how is setting the political trap for whome and I am completly lost. I thoought it was a plan for a Union Dem war …now its a Chciago war against downstate. It may be a big Cluster that no body wins

  89. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:48 pm:

    Ummm … all of Cross’ financial backers demand pension reform and now he’ll sink it and the speaker will point to a laundry list of ed union donations to HGOP. Try to keep up Western before they shut your uni down in the budget cuts.

  90. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:56 pm:

    I saw U of i endorsed this mess maybe we can start there!
    It is interesting that Northwestern and the U of C are on the civic club. They wouldnt have a vested interest in getting U of I to self immolate?
    Thye get nothing from the state ….Oh the MAP grants those subsidize a whole bunch of private schools….Ohe Gee more Rickettsia here

  91. - public policy person and lawyer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:28 pm:

    @Jechislo. I will continue to vote for D’s because R’s are far worse. I have voted for some R’s over the years. ha ha.

    Let’s face it folks, healthcare in retirement can be changed constitutionally and suddenly because a guarantee of healthcare for life was never written into Illinois statute. Following issue for years now. Never saw a state guaranteeing free healthcare forever. Healthcare amendments have been upheld in other states routinely.

    I have not done hardcore research on the issue, but anyone can riddle me this. Per judicial pension website, they don’t pay for colas, and it even looks like they are not required to pay for spousal contributions like the rest of us government mopes. Seems that would violate ERISA which state pension laws follow closely. Someone please tell me that I am wrong. Or, just another example of judicial preference.

    Finally, I thought most of our legislators are lawyers. They should all open Black’s Law Dictionary and read the definition of consideration if they can’t remember from day one of law school. An AGREEMENT to change based on commensurate consideration is needed to change the pension laws. Not gun to head durress. Otherwise, the GA would would do it unilaterally every year. Everyone take a deep breath. Night all. Fun chatting with you guys.

  92. - public policy person and lawyer - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:32 pm:

    @western illinois. If it helps any, I went to NU and U of C, and I am kind of on your side. Sleep tight.

  93. - western illinois - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:38 pm:

    Thanks PPP Lawyer. I think healthcare would be a debate over the existance or non existance of a contract
    In the meantime I have this financially solved
    We beat Switzerland to the bond market

    We sell neg 0.01 percent bonds a much better deal than the Swiaa . Who needs ratings we dont need no stinkin ratings the bonds pay themselves off in a thousand years The Swiss will have taken your money away in your own lifetime!

  94. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:49 pm:

    Rep. Bost got himself quite a lot of TV attention up north on his meltdown on the House floor on what, I think, was the pension issue.

    His words were unintelligible, but the dude has some moves.

  95. - A Hard Working State Worker - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:02 pm:

    Are they saying that if I choose to keep the COLA, they will base my pension on my salary today as opposed to average of best 4 years when I retire? I’ve worked for the state for 11 years and I planned on putting in another 20 years. If so, it seems this pension change completely screws someone in my situation. There is no way I can afford to base my retirement in 20 years on what my salary is today. I’d be forced to lag behind inflation in my retirement by giving up the 3% COLA. And who is to say they won’t do this again when they realize they need to save more money? I hope the courts are kind to us on this issue, but I’ve lost some hope.

  96. - Jimbo - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 7:29 am:

    –Thank God State employees have these wonderful Chicago D’s protecting their rights. Go Obama!—

    Yep. We should have voted for that super pro-union guy Brady. I’m absoulutely sure everything would be A-okay if we had.

  97. - PublicServant - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 7:38 am:

    See you in court Bob. You too East Side. I follows what the pension rules were during my employment with the state. I don’t care what you think was intended. Equal Employment Opportunity laws don’t allow me to be treated like a second class citizen.

    Your money? When someone works for the state under the rules in place for their entire career, that money is MY money bud, and you’ll soon get that confirmed in court. What’s happening now is theft, pure and simple.

  98. - Palos Park Bob - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    I agree about the “theft” publicservant. What you are apparently missing is that YOU’RE the one doing the stealing!

    There was no way it was in the public interest to give you these unfair and unsustainable benefits. You bribed pols in both parties to betray their constituents by creating this system, and now you’re complaining that the dishonest pols who cheated their constituents are turning around and breaking the crooked deal they made with you.

    publicservant, when you sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas. First the pols betrayed us and now they’re betraying you. You’re actually surprised by this?

    Your unions better kick up your “campaign contributions” to members of the Illinois supreme court. For the Illinois Supremes, money talks and BS walks, and if you don’t think Madigan influences them, you really are a political virgin.If I were you, I’d be very nervous. If the Supreme’s clearly define what “shall not be diminished” means, this will only be the beginning of the reductions!

  99. - public policy person and lawyer - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 7:07 pm:

    Exactly how much money have the Koch bros given Cross!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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