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Cullerton vindicated by court ruling

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013

* Yesterday’s dismissal of lawsuits which attempted to link free retiree health insurance premiums to the state Constitution’s pension benefits protection clause prompted this reaction from Senate President John Cullerton…

“The real impact of this ruling is that it reinforces my position that a guarantee of health care access can be negotiated as part of a contractual change to protected pension benefits. Only the benefits found in the Illinois Pension Code are protected by the Pension Clause.

“Pension reform is my top priority. While I acknowledge that there are a number of ways to structure a bill, I believe that a reform based on contractual principles of offer, consideration and acceptance is the best way to ensure that the legislation is upheld in court. I will continue to advocate that giving state employees and retirees a choice between cost of living allowances and access to health care is the best way forward”.

Since insurance is not a guaranteed right, then he can now argue that he’s offering retirees a real choice: Keep your COLA or keep your access to insurance.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

95 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    This is a very big stick in these negotiations. If the state could just gut health insurance benefits, retirees and their representatives are going to be forced to negotiate. It’s a good thing for the prospects of pension reform.


  2. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    there are plenty of retirees of other governments in Illinois who do NOT get fee insurance. time for equality in pensions. everybody should pay.


  3. - mythoughtis - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    Except I am not sure it will let us choose to keep our COLA if we started at the state later in life and don’t work 20 years. I still think that SB1 Senate Amendment 1 has provisions in it that strip the COLA for retirees with less than 20 years creditable service. Still waiting for someone to tell me that I am reading it wrong.

    It’s in the amending of Section 14, some subparagraph a-3, in the Part A area.


  4. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    There is a difference between negotiation & coerced choice. While AFSCME has proposed a way out of the pension mess, the only response back is a cold shoulder. AFSCME has reached out and attempted to negotiate. It has been the legislators, particularly MJM that have refused to consider serious talks. MJM didn’t even show up for the pension summit in February.

    “The real impact of this ruling is that it reinforces my position that a guarantee of health care access can be negotiated as part of a contractual change to protected pension benefits.”


  5. - Tsavo - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:35 am:

    As a State retiree if given a choice I will keep the COLA and give up “access” to State insurance.

    The COLA is a known, while the future premiums the State may charge concerns me.


  6. - foster brooks - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:35 am:

    Vindicated? They are not appealing the judges ruling?


  7. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    While the ruling helps Cullerton’s position, I don’t read it as going quite that far. It’s fairly narrowly written. The ruling only say’s there is no entitlement to free health care and, by what seems to be a bit of questionable logic, the judge did not find a contract to exist. The question of access to the State Group Health Plan was not directly addressed and you can read where the judge notes that is not the question under consideration. From the ruling:”The Plaintiffs
    do not argue that the State cannot provide coverage …”

    I’m still having a problem with the “no contract” finding. Prior to the GA creating the statute, the union contract and agency rules provided the 8 or 20 year insurance; there was no requirement to actual codify it as a statute. It wasn’t directly part of the argument, but I still think the codification / approval by the GA did create a contract because there was no need to actually do the codification; the GA could have just allowed the delegation to CMS of rule making and the union contract to stand on their own.

    Until the higher courts rule on the expected appeal, Cullerton has the presumption of this ruling … but we haven’t heard the end of it.


  8. - Ruby - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    This could be a serious problem for low income state retiree who do not have Medicare coverage.


  9. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    Who would give up a fixed constitutionally guaranteed cola over a variable unprotected partial to none health insurance payment?
    There are other things questionable in Cullertons language including capping your pensionable salary.


  10. - Anotherretiree - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    Is the COLA in the pension code ? The Judge said that only the fixed amount is protected. A Law passed by the legislature cant create a contract since the law can be reversed. Cant they just take away the COLA ? After we give up Healthcare.


  11. - Cassiopeia - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    For a Medicare eligible retiree the decision is a no brainer. A Medicare advantage plan can be gotten for between $85 and $200 and is probably better than the state plan that the state picks up for retirees at twice that amount.

    The COLA increase covers this in about 2-3 years after you are 65 if you have the average $35,000 pension, earlier if its higher.


  12. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:03 am:

    Also the more people that pull out of group insurance the higher the cost for retirees and current employees that remain.


  13. - Frenchie Mendoza - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    This ruling — and Cullerton’s response — baffles.

    How is “guaranteed access” to health care a choice equal to COLA.

    If I have a choice between having guaranteed access to a two dollar off bottle of wine (but I must still pay $19 for the wine after two dollars off) or a free bottle of Champagne (retail price $49) — I would say, okay — wait — that’s not a valid choice. Of course I’ll choose the Champagne.

    Isn’t the idea of “consideration” giving someone a choice between two or more items of *equal* value?

    In other words — a choice of a $49 bottle of Pinot Noir versus a $49 bottle of Champagne. I can’t have both, but I can choose one — and not pay for whatever I choose. Both are equal value — and the choice is one that’s up to me. Either way I choose, I’ll get something of value.

    So isn’t the real choice free health care or COLA — so long as both are equal in value? What is this “access to health care”? What value is access when I still have to pay?

    Besides, why in the world would anyone choose the lesser value health care when the compounded COLA is worth much, much more.


  14. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    Ruby,

    While it was not true in the past, a change in the law a few years back made everyone eligible for Medicare Part A. As I understand it, if you paid 40 quarters (10 years) into SS, it is “free”; if not, you have to pay for Part A. Everyone pays for Part B, and you have to have Part A. The State insurance serves as a ‘Medigap’ policy, effectively paying what B does not coverage and providing D (prescription) coverage.

    The real problem I see is, if you do not sign up for Medicare at age 65, you end up paying higher premiums.


  15. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    With Obamacare its a no brainer. If you are a low income rtiree you take Meicaid otherwise you get subsidies and the exchanges with probably the same plans the state offers. The state save nothing on pensions


  16. - Ret. Prof. - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say Cullerton is vindicated. This was about the free premium which even if the employees won, what was to say the state couldn’t increase co-pays and out-of-pocket costs?


  17. - Sue - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:25 am:

    Someone needs to educate Fullerton as to the problems of healthcare inflation. He could be trading one problem for another. We don’t need anymore contractual benefit promises


  18. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:25 am:

    Free premium health care not part of the pension clause — not too suprised. The finding that an offer and acceptance had not occured (a meeting of the minds) seems a bit weak. I do beleive that those in the early retirement certainly acted “to their detrement” based on what they were promised. I think the judge cut this preety thin. In the fullnes of time — appeal is certainly comming. Ironicaly, I beleive in the opinion it shows the strength in which courts are going to uphold the pensin clause.


  19. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    Assuming the COLA is protected, how can Cullerton’s bill offer health care or COLA? If the COLA is protected, doesn’t that mean you get it no matter what..it’s yours, the State can’t touch it? How can you be forced to choose between a not protected benefit (health care) and a protected benefit (COLA)? To put the COLA into the either/or category the same as health care wouldn’t it have to be ruled as not protected??


  20. - archimedes - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    The automatic increase (or COLA) is in the Pension Code as a fixed 3% increase annually - so it would seem to be contractual. The consideration for giving up the increase does not have to be equal - since the pension member would be making a choice. Health Insurance access may be more important to me if I am a cancer survivor and have limited access to very costly health care (at least until the exchanges can fundtion efficiently) - it may be worth giving up the automatic increases. To another, it may not.

    I think RNUG stated it well, however. The ruling dealt with the issue at hand - charging premium for health insurance. It did not deal with access in exhange for automatic increases in pension.
    However, it did “set the stage” for SB 1.


  21. - Skirmisher - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    The obvious problem with Cullerton’s “choice” is that almsot everyone expects the state to strip away all or most of the COLA benifit, as demanded by the Civic Club gang. On the other hand, we can also expect the state to bail out health insurance as quick as it can. Either way, believe nothing the Governor tells you.


  22. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    Huggybunny,

    Voluntary contractual agreements can override other laws. Back when I used to rent out a historic home, my lease had the renter agree to specifically exclude certain State laws designed to protect the renter. You could argue it was coercive, but if the renter didn’t like it, he didn’t have to rent from me.

    Cullerton wants you to voluntarily give up your COLA for something you think will be equal or better; that’s what the “choice” option is about. A lot of people don’t believe the choice as presented is voluntary or equal.


  23. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Huggybunny

    I think the only thing the ruling on health care did for Cullerton — at this point — was to not illiminate his form or idea of “consideration” or making a choice between a COLA and access to health care. Had the judge ruled that retirees had a right to free premium health care then his whole “choice” would have been gone. I still agree with you, that Cullerton is on weak ground in that his choice does not seem like much of a “consideration” to me. I would put it this way — at least Cullerton is agreeing that you can not just take away benifits….his proposal is the closest thing to legal coming out of the GA. Also, the ruling spoke to right to free premium health care and not to access?


  24. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    @RNUG

    A lot of people don’t believe the choice as presented is voluntary or equal.

    I have to agree, being forced to choose between one or the other is not voluntary, and how could you even begin to say it is “equal” when the dollar amount of the retirees cost of health care is not stated, but just mentioned as access to? We all know that as soon as the State can get out of paying any of the health care premium they will drop health care like a hot potato.


  25. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    I think a better way to look at it is — as you stated — you have a protected right to your COLA and you have the right to keep it. If for you, the need to have acces to healh care is essential then you can have it by choosing to accept a lower COLA. I am wondering if the coming “affordable Care Act” will allow some with health conditions to be able to keep the COLA? If a choice is made to reduce COLA in exchange for access to health care….will the state agree to a certain level of subsidy for that access?


  26. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Huggybunny, RUNUG

    I think there is an argument that for someone with a serious pre-condition or we all could face some serious future illness — that access to health care might be equal or greater then keeping the COLA as is. I do beleive that “Obama Care” may change that equation.


  27. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    My persnonal position is to stick with the most protected benifit we have….the COLA under the pension clause of the IL Constituion — if at all possible. We all know the state will lie or renig on any other promise or claim no promise exists or if it does exist it was not exactly formed or constructed so as to create a contract. It was just a promise and not a promise promise. In the future I think the state needs to say “I pinky swear” three times but we would need to check if their fingers are crossed. :)


  28. - Fair Share - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    Vindicated? Sort of. Yes, Cullerton was right when he said retiree healthcare is not a benefit. But if he bargins for and uses it as “consideration” in a pension deal, it may very well become an entitlement as bargained for “onsideration” and the Judge might find a contract exists next time.


  29. - east central - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:20 pm:

    Unless/Until the ruling is overturned, the State can give retirees and current employees the option of accepting multiple pension alternatives with one of them being Current Plan. Current Plan can mean no State subsidy for health insurance. It would not be coercive and would not diminish pensions according to the ruling.

    The alternative to Current Plan needs to be more acceptable to persons in the retirement systems than completely giving up COLAs. I would think something like the +2% pension contribution for current employees (that unions have offered), the health insurance cost sharing for retirees in the AFSCME contract, and a downward but not draconian adjustment to COLAs such as changing to actual CPI with a cap of 2.5% rather than the fixed 3.0%. The package needs to be tempting or else most everyone will choose Current Plan even if it means no subsidy for health insurance.

    Combine this with other constitutional measures to solve the pension funding problem.

    Timing matters because if the ruling is overturned before employee/retiree choices are locked in, then the State’s leverage is lost.


  30. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:25 pm:

    ===and the Judge might find a contract exists next time===

    Um, that’s the whole point of Cullerton’s proposal.

    Individuals will be asked to sign a contract for either COLA or insurance.


  31. - illinifan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    A lot is being said about the ACA. The exchanges will be here starting October 1. Think of it as Orbitz for health care so it is not an issue of getting the exchanges to work they are not a separate health system, just a change in the way it is purchased. Once insurance is purchased using the exchange your relation is now with the insurer. Another big issue is how income is used to determine subsidy. It is called MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) and the government will use the amount of income reported on a tax return for a tax filing unit. If you receive Social Security it is often not counted as income for taxes so some state retirees who get Social Security will have such a low income (MAGI)since only the pension will be considered income, they will be eligible for health care with full or partial federal subsidy. You get help paying the premiums on a sliding scale up to a MAGI of 400% of FPL (for a family of 4 this is $94,200).Insurance on the caps out of pocket costs, so quite honestly for most people taking the COLA and going with the new ACA coverage may be the best. Before anyone has to make a decision (if it comes to this) please fully research ACA (and don’t use the blogs and other rumor mills. Get the truth so you can make a truly informed decision. The Kaiser Family Foundation has great information, along with IllinoisHealthmatters.org and federal health and human services.


  32. - I know labor - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    Rich,

    U are right, If this clears all legal hurdles and is implemented, then individuals, not any union or organization, will have to make a choice as this is an INDIVIDUAL contact!!!!


  33. - redleg - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    I wonder which “choice” a retiree would be defaulted into upon the retiree deciding to not make a “choice” within x amount of time? Even if the COLA “choice” is non-compounded, for us older Boomers close to Medicare I would think the majority of us would take the COLA. I can’t see the state using the COLA as a default “choice”.


  34. - I know labor - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Although, I doubt if the contract with AFSCME on healthcare (retirees) premiums is legally binding, as pertaining to the labor act, it was made in good faith… And may be binding in other ways. However, did not the state agree to charge X amount for premiums; contingent upon on the Maag ruling? And now they will reneg if the Cullerton bill is passed?

    Wow… If that be the case,… The states word means nothing…


  35. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    redleg,

    Didn’t check it today but the last time I read Cullerton’s “choice” language, the default was keep the COLA


  36. - mid-level - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===and the Judge might find a contract exists next time===

    This is not a concern for the State since the consideration is “access” to healthcare.

    I’m sure in the new contract that “access” will be determined by the State. It can be $1 less than what an individual would pay purchasing healthcare on their own.


  37. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    I just got back from my tax lawyer (a husband of a teacher) and I learned 2 things …the teachers pay into a retiree health care plan so this could only apply to SURS and SERS and GARS and the judges and illinifan is spot on…..and I would add unless you are in one of the self funded plans your relationship now is with the insurance company.
    The GOP is right here. Cullerton would be adding another proected benefit. So Cullerton offers a benefit to acess a poool of inurance plans or you could take your COLA and use the state exchange another choice of insurance plans…..It would have been worth something before the ACA


  38. - Ready To Get Out - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:11 pm:

    RNUG

    It is spelled out in the bill as you say and that is also how I read it.


  39. - redleg - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:13 pm:

    Thanks RNUG. I am guilty of not keeping up with all the language. I follow your facts and thoughts in another publication and if it wasn’t for you, I would be much less informed. Keep up the good work please!

    The point I was so poorly trying to make is would a “contract” exist, if one made the choice of defaulting, without a retiree’s signature, returning form(s), etc, since the judge was so concerned about a contract not being in place. What exactly does constitute a legal contract these days?

    These truly are interesting times we live in.


  40. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:19 pm:

    Redleg you ask a good question on what constitutes a contract. Sports teams say their tickets are contracts.
    I wish the unions would get the …to put all their 8 million in spending in legislative primaries….that would make really interesting times


  41. - The Elderly Man You Used to Love - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    It is not a real choice - Ty Fahner is right, it’s an illusory choice. How can you call something ‘adequate consideration’ when it may turn out to be of absolutely no value? Furthermore, if health insurance is not a constitutionally protected right, what’s to stop future legislatures from repealing it altogether? Nobody has ever addressed that question adequately.


  42. - Charlie - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    First, thanks to Illinifan for the info. On Jan 14,2008 in SURS office in Champaign Il I signed an irrevocable election to avoid the application of P.A.90-65. I checked option 1 which states, I authorize the State Universities Retirement System to calculate my retirement annuity under the provisions of Public Act 91-395,option 1. I UNDERSTAND THAT MY ELECTION IS IRREVOCABLE and I further understand tehat by selecting this option, I MAY RECIEVE A REDUCED MONTHLY RETIREMENT ANNUITY IN ORDER TO RECIEVE HEALTH INSURANCE AT NO COST TO ME.
    Does not say any thing about access. If what they are telling me is right, I might as well take my Irrevocable Election Form and put it on the toliet roll in the bathroom.


  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===Ty Fahner is right, it’s an illusory choice===

    Oh, please. Fahner thinks that offering to fund the pensions is enough consideration to pass constitutional muster.

    In other words, Fahner believes that the state doing what it’s already supposed to do is offering people a choice.

    So, pardon me if I don’t buy into his other arguments.

    I’m not saying that Cullerton’s proposal is definitely constitutional. But Ty Fahner is not the be-all, end-all expert on anything, including this.


  44. - Charlie - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    Another quick note. CASSIOPEIA you are right,for what I pay the state for my Wife`s insurance I could buy a policy or so the insurance lady in our town tells us.
    Furthermore, the state is 6 months to a year behind in paying the premiuns and I am paying the Dr. and Hospital what Medicare does not pay. Hope I get it back but doubt it. If Quinn would offer a small subsidy I would buy my own insurance and tell the State to shove it. I would anyway but a man`s word is supposed to be as good as his bond.


  45. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    R Fan,

    As you noted, TRS pays into THIS/TRIP.

    The Community College section of SURS (except Chicago College if I remember correctly) pay into CIP.

    Both are funds designed to reduce the cost of health insurance for retirees of those groups.

    Both groups also pay while working for the COLA benefit, in effect pre-funding it.

    To me, that makes the “choice” offer for TRS and SURS/CC really questionable. And TRS is the elephant in the room; the largest part of the State’s pension shortfall is in that system. If you can’t change the COLA for TRS, you’ve lost a big portion of the potential savings.


  46. - titan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    I’d also add a hat tip to RNUG.

    I get a lot of valuable information from what you post (and appreciate the very civil and pleasant tone you maintain).


  47. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    We are and must reamian a land of laws. Cullerton should be applauded for making a good faith effort to craft a pension solution that attempts to work within the framework of the pension clause of the IL constitution. I think the easiest way out for the GA would be to leave the retirees out of any pension reform and after this contract runs out (ACA will be in place)end all subsidies to retiree health care. Let us retirees have access to the state group of providers if we wish or go through the exchange. The cullerton plan would just give all current employees a choice to have their pension based on future raises and accept a lower COLA or keep the current COLA on their salery at this time.


  48. - D P Gumby - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    One question will be whether the insurance “option” will be illusory once the Health Care Act goes into force. Certainly, I have no intention of dropping the COLA for any reason.


  49. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 2:47 pm:

    D P Gumby

    I actually beleive at the end of the day, that no change in pension benfits will be allowed and the state will have to come up with the money. This will result in a back door version of the Cullerton plan because the state will be desperate to reduce costs so they will work to end subsidies for retiree health care etc.


  50. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    SB 1 and SB 35 have just failed in the senate.


  51. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:06 pm:

    anyone got a roll call on sb1?


  52. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    29 yes will check for no and present


  53. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    29-22-4


  54. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    And well he SHOULD feel vindicated, because now, rather than SPECulate about it, he has some proof FROM an actual Illinois Court, and so can run with it. Like or despise the ruling, that decision will help move this oh-so-CUMbersome process of passing a decent Reform Law ahead…


  55. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    SB1 just passed with 30 votes!


  56. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    Only failed by one vote. Bliss bill wasn’t close


  57. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 3:22 pm:

    Cullerton put it on postponed after getting 29 votes, then he flipped somebody, and got 30 votes less than 30 minutes later. Well done, Mr. President!!


  58. - quincy - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    Thanks AFSCME for saleing us retirees out. You got our money and threw dirt inour faces


  59. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:13 pm:

    @quincy

    What are you talking about, the State is the one socking it to you, not AFSCME! AFSCME cut a good deal on the health care, the State wanted retirees to pay a HUGE chunk! 1 or 2 percent on your annuity for most retirees is way less than what the State tried to make you all pay. I don’t agree with the court’s ruling, but then I’m not the judge. Your anger is misplaced, the State/GA is who is doing this to you.


  60. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:15 pm:

    Looks like they’re going to run with SB-1 before an appellate court gets a chance to reverse the ruling.


  61. - titan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:25 pm:

    @ facts are stubborn things - “I actually beleive at the end of the day, that no change in pension benfits will be allowed and the state will have to come up with the money. This will result in a back door version of the Cullerton plan because the state will be desperate to reduce costs so they will work to end subsidies for retiree health care etc.”

    You’re likely right on. They’ll find thay have to do some sort of “consideration” and then offer the health care (with non-guaranteed subsidy) versus the AAI (COLA) and few will take it. So they’ll leave the employees with the AAI but no health care coverage.


  62. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    RNUG

    Think it will make it through the house?


  63. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    Looks like they’re going to run with SB-1 before an appellate court gets a chance to reverse the ruling.

    So if SB1 gets passed into law and the appellate court then reverses the ruling, what happens?


  64. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    titan

    Totaly agree….doubt if any subsidy protection will go along with the deal. Even if so, who could trust it?


  65. - redleg - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    Wow what a week for retirees. My chin’s sore for some reason. Makes me think about what one of my HS teachers told me in the 60’s in a business class. She said “save your money kids….you’ll see the day that your generation will be viewed as a burden to society”. Looks like that time has started.

    Any guesses on when the forms will go out? Unless the GA drags their feet like they did with healthcare, I’ll say by May 1st. Of this fiscal year.


  66. - redleg - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:30 pm:

    That’s if it makes it through the House.


  67. - Old and in the Way - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:43 pm:

    Still out of state so limited Internet access. Did I read that SB1 was amended to only impact TRS? If so why? Most in TRS did not have health insurance. I need a faster/better connection or maybe stronger reading glasses…..


  68. - The liberal is here!!! - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    If this passes and is implemented .. my question would be… Why should present serving (part time) GA members have subsidized , by the taxpayers, healthcare…, or is it to all of us peasants…. “Let em eat cake”… Sad.


  69. - mid-level - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 4:56 pm:

    Interesting…the effective date is immediate on becoming law.


  70. - Jabbahut - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

    Two things to keep in mind:

    1. Healthcare never was protected by the PPC and all unions know this.

    2. If signed into law, Cullerton has just codified healthcare for every retiree who chooses the healthcare option. They will not be able to stop providing it after a retiree makes this choice.

    This legislation will protect a retiree’s access to healthcare now and forever. And in this instance, no retiree will ever have to pay more than an active employee might have to pay for healthcare.

    So in the end, retirees may have to pay for healthcare, but trying to make them pay more than an active employee will never make it past the courts. In fact, even attempting to make them pay any more than a percentage of their retirement annuities are regardless of what an active member may pay may also be protected.

    And of course, this legislation means nothing to the city of Chicago because not all retirees get free healthcare. As of now, two insureds who are not medicare age pay roughly 800 bucks a month for healthcare. So in Chicago, this legislation means nothing.


  71. - Jabbahut - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:04 pm:

    Any guesses on when the forms will go out? Unless the GA drags their feet like they did with healthcare, I’ll say by May 1st. Of this fiscal year.

    ************

    Yes, best guess is an injunction will be filed and won by plaintiffs and nothing will change until the SCOIL has ruled, AFTER the Appellate court takes a whack at it.


  72. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:08 pm:

    Think this will finall wake up the somnlent union leadership that the nice gut appraoc is a failure?
    Its not like they are the biggest pot of political money in Springfield -Oh wait they are!


  73. - Ruby - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:08 pm:

    =That’s if it makes it through the House.=

    We should be on the phone right now calling our state representative. SB 1 will only pass if we are silent.


  74. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:28 pm:

    RE: Maag injunction

    I disagree. Usually you manage to win an injunction when it looks to the court like you have a winning case or the harm would be irrepairable. Right now, because the State won at the first level, unless the plintiffs put together a blockbuster appeal, the presumption is going to be the State has the winning hand. And I don’t see the imposition of 1% / 2% premiums as irrepairable; if the State eventually loses the premiums will be ordered refunded. Probably the best the plaintiffs can hope for at this point is the creation of a trust fund for the premiums until a final determination is reached.


  75. - retired and fed up - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:44 pm:

    Jabbahut. The 5% per year credit toward retiree health insurance premium was also codified. How’s that working out?


  76. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 5:59 pm:

    IEA is saying todays bill is a “choice” between a salary freeze or COLA plus Health ….
    Both have right to sue for making payments…


  77. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 6:59 pm:

    Read what passed, folks. An amendment gutted the bill. Reading now.


  78. - Old and in the Way - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:03 pm:

    Finally got an update on amended SB1. It only covers TRS. The word I got was that Cullerton pulled every lever he had to get this watered down version of SB1 passed. It contains none of the Biss fiasco and focuses solely on TRS, at least for now. Someone, with a bigger screen perhaps, may want to check the final markup on the Il Senate site. Very interesting.


  79. - Old and in the Way - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:05 pm:

    AA &RNUG
    What is your take on this? Never fails, I leave the state and things get interesting……


  80. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:05 pm:

    I want RNUG and AA back running things again!


  81. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:16 pm:

    Fan, it’s more fun to watch from the bleachers at this point. My old shop is in very capable hands.
    AA would really like to be a Capitol Fax intern lol.

    From a quick read, I see that it’s TRS only, does not affect current retirees or actives who have submitted their retirement papers (a nice bit of drafting that didn’t cost much and takes a ton of worry off some people.)
    The choice is to freeze salary at SS level/keep
    COLA/healthcare access or take raises as pensionable.
    No contribution increase or cost shift. The “ironclad” guarantee
    language is included.


  82. - pensioner - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:31 pm:

    Thank you all for the input. Very informative. I hadnt considered it but does seem to be a push to the ACA. Cola would be con protected but HC not. Who would choose HC if not at least contractual? Comment may be right that state is shooting itself in the foot if trying to get out of the HC business.


  83. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:32 pm:

    AA RNUG fan thinks intern would be fund since he owned newspaper back in Big Jim era….

    I thought the freeze was at current salary not SS anyway not big effect on Mrs RNUG Fan.None of these are a big effect on anyone near retirement but I am still ticked off for everyone else


  84. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:40 pm:

    R Fan,

    No way do I want my old job back. And I only got to partially run a small corner when I was working. Like AA, more fun to watch from the bleachers w/popcorn.


  85. - pensioner - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:45 pm:

    6 of 7 justices on the 4th district appealate court are Republicans, so expect agreement with Judge Nardulli.Will be on to the Supremes, 4 of 7 Dems. Our best chance lies there.


  86. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:47 pm:

    AA,

    I don’t think CF intern pays very well … and these days, all the beer you can drink doesn’t have any appeal, two at most is my max these days.


  87. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 7:59 pm:

    Old,

    forgot to add,

    11) it could also be a way to nudge a bunch of teachers out the door before July 1, 2014 and cut current personnel costs a bit … shades of 2002 without the carrot, just a stick


  88. - Capitol View - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 9:26 pm:

    If I have to choose between health insurance and COLAs as a retiree and survivor of a retiree, I’ll accept having to choose if the COLA is on the total pension and not just the first $20 or 25,000


  89. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 9:35 pm:

    Capitol View it isnt that anymore see AA above
    IEA says it syour current salary fixed but AA says its the SS limit, I tend to go with AA Unions seemd caught with pants down today.BTW I would like to hear what Charlie Wheeler thinks of this one,he of SURS (like Mrs RNUG Fan) and TV fame


  90. - Soccertease - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 9:59 pm:

    Charlie wrote at 1:26 pm that he signed an irrevocable elections for premium-free health insurance. It’s sad that he relied on something that the judges and lawyers now say is null and void. So it was irrevocable for Charlie but not others? Judge Nardulli and others laughingly say “gotcha” to people who made important decisions based on what they thought was a valid contract. I know I’m naive and it’s the new normal to say what can I get by with rather than do what is right, but shouldn’t this be another ‘prospective’ thing. That is, applicable to new hires since retirees relied on what they thought was a contract?


  91. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:19 pm:

    Soccer I can see why its not pension but it sure looked like a contract to me…we shall see. I need to get my lawyer on here since he married to TRS while I am married to SURS.
    I have been watching the small Cyrpus savers rise up against their unconulted sacrifice to save the German 1% The Democrat Party is just the pretty face of the plutocrat party


  92. - Charlie - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 10:42 pm:

    Just checked back in for going to bed. Soccertease: Thanks for the kind words. I had 17 years and worked till 65. Too much heavy lifting and moving and time to retire anyway. It is sure a shame but we shall see what happens. To RNUG Fan: It sure looked like a contract when I signed. I take it you have or will have more than 20 years so that part won`t affect you. Good luck to all and to all a goodnight.


  93. - fedup - Wednesday, Mar 20, 13 @ 11:25 pm:

    Just waded through the bill. My impression is that no matter what choice you make, you are worse off than under the status quo. So how can that be consideration? Also, noticed that no private cause of action is created for enforcement of any lack of funding. Instead, “the System may bring a mandamus action in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County to compel the State to make that payment.” Either the mandamus petition is a worthless gesture or the courts are going to strike this under separation of powers as the Illinois constitution gives origianl jurisdiction over mandamus to the courts.


  94. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 21, 13 @ 12:34 am:

    My thoughts / impressions.

    Only applies to TRS at the moment.

    Only applies to Tier 1.

    Even after chasing back and forth comparing references, I’m still a bit unclear if it exempts existing Tier 1 retirees / employees. Two sections seem to be in a bit of contradiction (or maybe I’m too tired to think straight). I don’t think the intention is to exempt Tier 1, otherwise what is the point of passing the bill?

    Cash balance plan doesn’t sound like something I would choose. I’d keep one a defined benefit plan and put any extra money in either deferred comp or a personally owned IRA or Roth IRA (depending on tax situation).

    Will enough people (30%) pick the reduced COLA and cause the guarantee to kick in?

    The guarantee being subordinated to bond debt, it doesn’t seem like that strong of a guarantee. Aren’t the current pensions effectively equal with the bond debt today?

    If I was only a few years from retirement and was going to be Medicare age at retirement, then it seems keeping the existing COLA and foregoing the “raises” being applied to the pension could be the best choice, depending on dependent insurance needs. Can’t really form an opinion about any other situation at the moment.

    If not enough people pick the reduced COLA, where to we go from here?


  95. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 21, 13 @ 7:38 am:

    OK, this morning it seems like it just applies to active teachers with only some savings. I thought I was misreading that last night.

    The only other conclusions I reached while sleeping on it is that this is as much or more about (1) taking the health insurance out of union negotiations and (2) trying to ensure the bonds get paid / ratings get improved than it is about actual pension reform.


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