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Caption contest!

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* Gov. Pat Quinn is in Brazil, and his office has posted some pics

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* I’m on the road today, so posting will be light.

* The Question: What’s been happening with your local races so far? Give us an update.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


What bailout?

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* The Wall Street Journal editorial board usually lives on a different planet than the rest of us, so we can take this for what it is

Now that Chicago’s children have returned to not learning in school, we can all move on to the next crisis in Illinois public finance: unfunded public pensions. Readers who live in the other 49 states will be pleased to learn that Governor Pat Quinn’s 2012 budget proposal already floated the idea of a federal guarantee of its pension debt. Think Germany and eurobonds for Greece, Italy and Spain.

Thank you for sharing, Governor.

Sooner or later, we knew it would come to this since the Democrats who are running Illinois into the ground can’t bring themselves to oppose union demands. Illinois now has some $8 billion in current debts outstanding and taxpayers are on the hook for more than $200 billion in unfunded retirement costs for government workers. By some estimates, the system could be the first in the nation to go broke, as early as 2018. […]

Look for Democrats in Washington to take up that call, and for such an effort to get some traction if Democrats control one or both houses of Congress next year. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican, has seen this future and is already warning against it. He and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk have proposed a resolution opposing a federal bailout of state pensions, and we hope more sign on. States need to clean up their own fiscal messes.

Quinn’s budget proposal included a federal guarantee of pension debt?

Not true.

We’ve been over this before. From February of 2011

Brie Callahan, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said Quinn would turn down all offers of federal bailout if the state finds itself out of cash.

“We believe that the states have an obligation to pay their bills and to meet the demands they have put upon themselves,” she said. “We don’t want any federal assistance in terms of bankruptcy.”

That above excerpt was from Illinois Statehouse News, now known as Illinois Watchdog. The publication failed to reference that quote when it ran a story on this silly topic the other day

The Illinois Policy Institute launched “No Pension Bailout,” a national movement to block Congress‘ attempts to rescue failing state and municipal pension plans.

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., joined John Tillman, the institute’s CEO, on Thursday in presenting a study, proving any bailout would punish responsible states and reward reckless ones. The study shows the winners and losers by state and county.

“States will assume they can run their pension systems into debt and turn to the federal government,” said DeMint. “For decades state legislators have endeared themselves to public employees with pension promises … based on accounting methods that would put any business in jail.”

* So, the Wall Street Journal editorial was based on Sen. DeMint’s press conference which was based on some Illinois Policy Institute fear-mongering about a single line in an administration analysis of the Fiscal Year 2012 budget over a year and a half ago, in February of 2011..

significant long-term improvements will come only from additional pension reforms, refinancing the liability and seeking a federal guarantee of the debt.

That line was immediately retracted by the governor’s office and there’s been zero discussion about this topic since then.

* From the governor’s office…

The Illinois Policy Institute continues to incorrectly state this narrative about state’s requesting “bailouts” ignoring that no governor is asking or has asked for any such bailout. We want to make clear, as Gov. Quinn did in early 2011, that the state of Illinois is not seeking a federal guarantee for its pensions.

When a statement to that effect was discovered in an Illinois budget document in 2011, Gov. Quinn immediately made clear the sentence was entered in error and many media outlets reported the correct statement: ‘Illinois has no plans to seek a federal guarantee on any bonds or pension debt.’ We ask that everyone please update their records to reflect what was made clear in 2011.

Gov. Quinn signed into law reforms for new employees which will save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the next several decades and he continues to call on legislators and groups like the Illinois Policy Institute to help enact comprehensive reforms for current employees.

The IL Policy Institute played a little game, and a US Senator and the Wall Street Journal played along.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


About last night…

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* Anybody want to talk about that horribly refereed football game last night?

Oy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


AFSCME: Contract talks at “virtual standstill”

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012

* This is from an e-mail from AFSCME to its members…

Negotiations for a new state contract are at a virtual standstill as the Quinn Administration continues to press for massive concessions that would take thousands of dollars out of union members’ pockets.

Governor Quinn’s position is an insult to every state employee, demonstrating in no uncertain terms how little he values the vital services that state government provides to citizens.

The administration’s proposal would move every employee down two pay grades in the first year of the contract, then freeze wages and steps for the remaining two years. It would also drastically increase employee health care costs.

For many employees this would represent a $10,000 pay cut next year.

Here’s what the health insurance changes that Management has on the table would mean for you:

    First year CHP Family Premium increases–$3,245 per year; Managed Care Family Premium increases–$2,940 per year

    In the second and third year, the premium costs would increase even more because the employee’s share of health care costs (now specified in dollars per month in the contract) would be determined by a fixed percentage of costs.

    For the Quality Care Health Plan (QCHP), Management would more than double annual hospital admission deductibles, coinsurance, and annual out-of-pocket limits.
    Prescription deductibles and copays would be increased.

    Managed Care Plan (HMO or OAP) co-pays for everything (office visits; hospital admissions, surgery, emergency room, etc.) would double, as would the Rx deductible.

    Dental Plan deductibles would increase by $275. Vision Plan co-pays for exams, lenses, and frames would also more than double.

The current contract expired on June 30, but the parties agreed to extend it pending the involvement of an independent mediator in the bargaining sessions. Management refused to participate in the bargaining scheduled for Sept. 10-12 because a mediator would not be present. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 1-3. However, there is still no agreement on a mediator and one may not be available for that session either.

The continuing deadlock at the negotiating table makes crystal clear that the only way state employees will gain a fair contract is through direct action at the worksite and in the community.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


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