* 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.
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.
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.