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Rauner wants to skip pension payments

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* OK, well, that’s pretty much the only way to read Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s latest press release.

First, though, this is what Gov. Pat Quinn actually said yesterday

Illinois’ five pension systems are a combined $96.7 billion short of what’s needed to cover promised retirement benefits to current and former workers. Over the years, the state either shorted or skipped pension payments.

Quinn said that proposal should include a guarantee that Illinois will meet its annual required contribution.

“The state can never ever again not pay what it should pay every year to the pension account. That’s why we’re in this situation,” he told reporters in Chicago.

* Rauner’s press release…

Rauner Statement on Quinn “Pension Guarantee”

Chicago, IL – Yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn announced his support for a guarantee of pension payments to be added to the overall pension reform bills. Bruce Rauner released the following statement:

“After years of continued mismanagement, Governor Quinn continues to reveal his true colors: a lackey to the government union bosses.

“Governor Quinn’s giveaway to government unions will only make our pension crisis worse. Because of years of bad deals and poor decisions in Springfield, we have $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“It’s clear that career politicians in Springfield don’t have the backbone to stand up to the union bosses they depend on for re-election and are willing to sacrifice Illinois taxpayers for their own political needs.”

Guaranteeing that the state make its required payments to the pension systems by allowing people to sue if the state doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain is a “giveaway to government unions”? Are you freaking kidding me? After decades of the state not paying into the systems, now Rauner thinks that it’s a bad idea to fulfill the state’s responsibilities? And skipping payments will somehow lower the unfunded liability? Is he stupid?

Did he maybe think Quinn was talking about guaranteed payments to retirees? And if he did, what does that say about him?

What is Rauner really up to here?


  1. - Newsclown - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:29 pm:

    “What is Rauner really up to here?”

    Playing to the tahadist base for a primary season fund-raising. I thought it was pretty obvious. Rauner and Dillard hate each other, but Rauner makes Dillard look like Stevenson.

  2. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    ===What is Rauner really up to here?===

    a.) He’s demonstrating his utter ignorance of the pension systems and the history of bipartisan underfunding.

    b.) He’s demonstrating that he is woefully unprepared to serve as governor.

    c.) He is demonstrating why “running government like a business” is the worst possible course of action a state can take.

    Business go through bankruptcy to avoid their pension obligations. States can’t.


  3. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    Despite repeated attempts by the uber convervatives to portray public employees as greedy, public opinion seems to be with public employees. Most Illinois taxpayers know who the culprits for the pension crisis are and a statement like this isn’t going to bring Rauner any votes, other than his rich CEO pals.

  4. - foster brooks - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    Not all nuts fall from the tree.

  5. - Jack - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    A mean ol’ union boss must have taken away little Brucie’s candy.

  6. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    Rauner represents the One Percenters who don’t care about the legality or morality of fulfilling the state’s benefit obligations. It’s all about cutting benefits to public workers so those One Percenters that actually do pay taxes can pay less. To accomplish this task they create an false enemy to garner support from the uninformed.

    Rauner can bite me.

  7. - democrat Grrrl - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:44 pm:

    This campaign is going to be fun to watch. Please, Mr. Rauner, may we have some more? Ignorance, meet bliss.

  8. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:48 pm:

    What an idiot. Apparently he doesn’t know the meaning of contractual obligation. I swear, if he gets the Republican Nomination, I am switching sides.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    Rauner’s positions are not what is going to help him win, meaning, the more Rauner speaks, the more people are going to look at him negative.

    Now, I know…that is with every single “flavor of the month”. I am not naive.

    My point? Rauner is choosing the harsh light of what seperates him from everyone, and what is NOT going to bring more people into his camp. Rauner is NOT choosing to try to build, Rauner is trying to divide and conquer, but the side Rauner is choosing, has fewer on it, including many Republicans he hopes to keep, and many Indies Rauner is trying to woo.

    This “campaign” so far is a train wreck. If Rauner is lookig for the 12,000 voters who agree with him, he will find them, at the cost of $150 a vote.

  10. - Dirt Diver - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    He would be singing a different tune if his private equity firm was investing money on behalf of the state retirement systems. If his private equity firm performed favorably and managed money for the systems, I guarantee this wouldn’t be his position.

    He’s taking the same approach as Lois Scott (Chicago’s CFO) has publicly supported, let the funds go insolvent and we can move to a pay as you go system and adjust the benefits accordingly.

  11. - cassandra - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    Well, I suppose a constitutional amendment mandating future pension payments might rein in what a future legislature might do. Otherwise..but wait, our political leaders are currently trying to undo a provision of the Illinois constiution. There just are no certainties. This pension payment protection stuff is all a sideshow for the uninformed.

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    ===This pension payment protection stuff is all a sideshow for the uninformed.===

    I think you should read the language first. It’s a pretty solid guarantee.

  13. - horseracer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    Reminding the world that Quinn is the first Governor in decades to make the required pension payment - every time. No skips, no shorts, no holidays.

  14. - siriusly - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Playing to the base, small thinking.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    “Never let the state constitution get in the way of ignorance on an issue”

    I have this “question” to add to the Rauner post from Friday…

    “Have you read the Illinois Constitution, and specifically the part dealing with pensions and state employees? Do you feel your recent positions make legal sense, given that you read the Illinois Constitution and its specific guarantees?”

    Boy, I would like to hear that whopper of an answer Rauner would come up with, because if this is a “taste” of his idea of being the Executive, and getting sworn-in, and upholding the Illinois Constitution, yikes, he is in for a rude awakening.

  16. - Old and in the Way - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Met the man for 30 sec. Listened to him bloviate for 30 minutes. How did anyone that ignorant get that rich? He has no clue what is going on in Illinois. The more he talks the less support he will have.

  17. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I wonder how much of this is really coming from Rauner. His spokesman has quite a reputation and is from the far right of the political spectrum (like from his days as Mark Neumann’s flak.) Perhaps he’s been given free rein.

  18. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    Oh so when he said as governor he wouldn’t be beholden to any special interest he meant he wouldn’t be beholden to the interest on illinois’s debt, which apparently would only grow on his watch.

  19. - Devices - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    Rauner is parroting the Tillman/Proft talking points verbatim. Their attacks on the Nekritz-Biss-Cross bill were nearly entirely based on their opposition to requiring the state to make payments into the pension systems.

    Why? Because they want the ability to not make pension payments in order to extract huge concessions from the unions. In short, they want to bust the unions by withholding the pension payments.

  20. - abc123 - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    Business groups already condemned the guaranty provisions, which are patently absurd. They would delegate to courts the right to seize state cash in “reasonable” amounts, would be litigated forever if they aren’t voided for vagueness on their face. Skipping payments to the system has already been upheld as constitutional. Funding should be redirected to a sensible alternative system. What is absurd to Rich Miller and Springfield is obvious to others.

  21. - Votecounter - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    when a business goes bankrupt all of it’s obligations are restructured I believe what he is saying is that we will have to restructure our states pension obligations. Yes it will hurt but anyone in the Trade unions or steel industry or any number of lines of work have had to go through this. Our medical now costs us when it was sold as 100% covered, Some pensions lost everything in the last economic calamity why should that happen only to the private sector? Talk to the US Steel guys when their companies disappeared they lost everything. It sucks but something has to be done to stop the bleeding 17 million a day is unsustainable, it’s already $100 billion.
    Rauner is correct about one thing no democrat can do what needs to be done and survive.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    - abc123 -,

    Have you …read … the Illinois Constitution on this matter?

  23. - MrJM - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    Is he stupid?

    That question appears settled. The only question left on the table is the matter of degree.

    – MrJM

  24. - Jorge - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:17 pm:

    “That question appears settled. The only question left on the table is the matter of degree.”

    well said.

  25. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    I suspect his ultimate goal is to abolish defined benefit state employee pensions altogether, on the grounds that pensions are an outdated luxury the state can’t afford and state employees ought to save for their own retirement “like everyone else” — meaning “me and all my wealthy friends”.

  26. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    Rauner is trying to show he’s willing to beat down government employees. Trash talking.

    The Democrats would love to run against someone who says the things Rauner says.

    Rauner is another example of the observation one doesn’t have to be particularly well-informed, sensible or good at communicating to get rich.

  27. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    Skipping payments to the system has already been upheld as constitutional.

    Yeah and also in financial scheme of things, incredibly stupid.

    You may feel that people outside Springfield may consider the guarantee ‘absurd’, it is however what was written into the constitution and it appears again and again the courts have rules that the state is on the hook for it. That is in a way why you have constitutions, to ensure things even they may not be popular. Take your favorite right in the US Constitution or the Bill Of Rights, odds are there is someone exercising it in a way that you likely would not agree with, but that is the way it is. That in a nutshell is what makes rights well rights. If there was no risk a disagreement or abandonment when things are not going the way the majority wants them there wouldn’t be a need for them to be a right.

    Even if you tell every new government employee there is no pension system for them, you still have to deal with the liability that is there.

    Both constitutionally and ethically. Don’t know if you went to public school here in Illinois, but do you want to tell your third grade teacher, sorry, but it isn’t the fault of the state skipping payments or not putting enough in the system but it is your greedy union bosses fault, so no pension payment this month?

  28. - unbiased observer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    i dont really know much about rauner, but if he runs for governor basically on a pension reform platform, it will focus more attention upon fiscal difficulties created by the pension obigations.

    I dont think this favors the anti pension reform folks. resistance is already maxed out politically in the this group. however, the public at large is just starting to understand how bad of a fiscal crater we are heading for.

    if the statewide political races center around pension the pension reform debate, more and more people will mobilize in support of pension reform. they will not want to pay increased taxes to maintain the pensions of a small percentage of the state’s population.

    im looking at this from merely a political perspective here, not legal or moral, but I think this perspective is informative and important here.

  29. - Liepschlitz - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    Note to Dillard and Brady: Get the pension deal done or Rutherford, Schlock and Brauner will have a field day.

  30. - Samurai - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    Illinois Constitution Re: Pensions: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, sec. 5.

  31. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===It is simple fascism that appeals unfortunately to a large number of the Republican primary electorate.===

    That sounds great to a Rauner it appears, but winning a Primary and then facing Lisa Madigan or even Pat Quinn and the Unions and the Field Operations working against Rauner, AND … the more Rauner talks, the less people are liking … makes the “end game” of winning the General Election not possible.

    Then add in the possibility of “shutting down” the state could lead to “Impeachment” because a “Governor Rauner” would be going against the Oath he made when a “Governor Rauner” was sworn in… and that is if Rauner … wins!

    Is Rauner serious?

  32. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    Perhaps, Gov. Ryan would also consider a guarantee to public education which would honor the state’s obligation at Sec X of the state constitution which states:

    “The State has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.”

    Perhaps, a better educated citizenry, especially those in real estate poor communities, would help create the economic activity the state badly needs and help with pension funding.

  33. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    Sorry, I meant Gov. Quinn. What was I thinking?

  34. - Been There - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    ===Is he stupid?===
    I think you might have your “Cuba” moment with him sooner rather than later.

    ===a real throw-down in Cuba at the ambassador’s mansion during a trade mission===

  35. - Fultonfarm - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    From what I can tell, he is not trusted among rank and file Republicans.

    He is spending a lot of money for a pre-campaign but I honestly think he is going nowhere.

  36. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:42 pm:

    Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 12:42 pm:
    “Rauner can bite me.”

    DITTO, and thanks Rich for showing me to never vote for this guy for anything !

  37. - Endangered Moderate Species - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    ===government union bosses===

    Rauner is not subtle in his feelings about our teachers and other State workers.

    Some members of the ILGOP continue to amaze me.

    With his own actions towards government workers, Quinn has left an opening for the GOP and rather than trying to wedge and widen the opening, one of the ILGOP’s leading candidates shuts the opening and bars the door.

    I don’t believe Rauner’s statement will play well to the ILGOP base. There are a large number of retired and active state workers whom are Republican and a lot of them are active in local politics.

    His statement plays well to the Tea Party and I am not sure that is the base to build from in an Illinois statewide campaign.

    Rutherford, Dillard and Schock should be smiling.

  38. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    Rauner believes that all of the state’s problems (and all government problems) are caused by public employee unions. This is a common belief in the circles he travels. The people he chums around with will love this tack.

  39. - Fred's Mustache - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    === Sorry, I meant Gov. Quinn. What was I thinking? ===

    Thinking about the old “Glory days” CCC?

  40. - unbiased observer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    yeah, unfortunately there are some very unattractive class warfare/division forces at play here. there are a significant number of citizens in the state who either resent the fact that state workers get what they consider to be generous pensions (rightly or wrongly) or practically speaking will be against tax increases to support these pensions. especially as they look at the percentage of the state budget being gobbled up by these pension obligations. it just doesn’t seem right to many people to support these pensions under great financial duress and increased attention to these issues on a statewide level will create more people in this category.

    teachers and stateworkers are already very aware of these pension issues thru their union affiliations, etc.

    the general public is only just starting to become aware of these realities.

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:59 pm:

    == If Rauner is looking for the 12,000 voters who agree with him, he will find them, at the cost of $150 a vote. ==

    That’s only 1.8 million bucks OW - Chump change compared to the numbers I’m hearing he’s prepared to throw at the race.

    Also, for all of you that are calling him “stupid”, remember that he is worth nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars. From what I read about him, he has taken his money and risked it and made money doing it. I know you don’t have to be a member of MENSA to make money in venture capital - but you can’t be stupid and be worth 3/4 of a billion dollars (inherited wealth excluded from this statement).

    It would be more appropriate to say that he seems to be ignorant of pension law and the causes of our pension shortfall. A “low information candidate”, if you will. For that, he should be scolded by all who read this blog for stepping out as boldly as he did. What I see is a candidate on the attack just to be attacking someone, or something. That’s what an “outsider” is supposed to do right? Watch to see if his hapless GOP rivals can make some hay out of this misstep.

    Bad politics by Rauner in this case…but the whole blanket, “he is stupid” stuff is nonsense.

  42. - titan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:04 pm:

    Would he be so cavalier if the state was talking about messing with bond payments?

    Well there you have it.

  43. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===but you can’t be stupid and be worth 3/4 of a billion dollars (inherited wealth excluded from this statement).===

    Says … WHO??? If there is a test on “Making Money” and you have to pass it, I still don’t know if that qualifies that you MUST be smart.


    I wasn’t saying, very specifically, about the cost per vote, I was mocking the idea his possibel low vote total, and possible HIGH “cost per vote” rate has the possiblility of being so far out of whack, Rauner might be smarter to just give the people the cash.

    And to the point that an outsider attacks, because that is what an outsider does… how about some knowledge of what you are attacking before stepping into something you (Rauner) seem ignorant (Definition) on the facets of the issue.

    You are very correct, bad politics, indeed.

  44. - Sue - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:10 pm:

    Rauner shouldn’t ever be Governor but he isn’t wrong on this point- The Supreme Court ruled that the constitution doesn’t obligate the State to make any particular annual pension payment into the Plans- why Quinn thinks it is a good idea to expand upon whatever the State obligation is or isn’t makes ZERO sense but then again Quinn rarely makes any sense no matter what subject he is talking about

  45. - Downstater - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    =Are you freaking kidding me? After decades of the state not paying into the systems, now Rauner thinks that it’s a bad idea to fulfill the state’s responsibilities? And skipping payments will somehow lower the unfunded liability? Is he stupid?=
    After the State passes a guarantee to make the payment to the pension, where do they get the money??? Higher taxes??? Are you kidding me!

  46. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:14 pm:

    Rauner is not stupid but he sure has not done his homework on the pension issues. Forget the attack rhetoric and read the IL Constitution and the various court decisions as well as the many other legal opinions on state pensions.

    Rauner says the state should be run like a business. But, did he say what would be his business model? That was more rhetoric for his CEO buddies.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    Did someone once say, “Ignorance is Bliss”?

  48. - illinifan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    Well his thinking is the same type of thinking that actually has gotten the pension system into the mess it is in. When private industry wants more money to fund expansion, increased CEO bonuses, or to cover up its failures it has the ability to redesign pension plans, change the contribution to the employee 401K etc. Welcome to the world of government Rauner where failure to meet a promised obligation is a little harder to sweep under the rug.

  49. - horseracer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    Easy, Sue. The pension skippers drove Illinois’ bond ratings and financial reputation into the ditch. Not a real popular idea with the folks counting on bond-financed capital projects. Or mention teachers, state and university employees.

  50. - BrianCostin - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    Rich Miller “I think you should read the language first. It’s a pretty solid guarantee.”

    True. It’s a pretty “solid” guarantee that would place pension payments above education funding, our criminal justice system, medicaid, roads, unpaid bills, and just about everything else besides our state’s bond payments.

    As the pension ramp requires bigger and bigger pension payments in each subsequent year, core government services (that don’t have a funding guarantee) will be put on the chopping block. Just like how Gov. Quinn’s proposed FY2014 budget cuts K-12 classroom spending by $400M, but the TRS pension payment goes up by $900M.

    If you care about the State of Illinois being able to provide core government services, including education funding for the kids, it would be foolish to endorse a pension funding guarantee.

  51. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    It shows what is wrong with Illinois. The opposition idiots are worse than the idiots in power.

  52. - northshorecynic - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    Rauner is in the midst of negotiating an acquisition of Illinois by Indiana. He is just trying to get the best price for the State.

  53. - D P Gumby - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    Evidence of how Gov. Quinn could win re-election if he survives a primary challenge!

  54. - unbiased observer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    it will be very interesting to see how the increased scrutiny to this specific issue, pension obligation and its role in our state’s financial demise, plays out across the state over the next couple of years.

    it will be interesting to see how the increased visibility of this pension issue will affect the politics of our state. it could be a game changer.

  55. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    ==Quinn thinks it is a good idea to expand upon whatever the State obligation is or isn’t makes ZERO sense==

    Yes, let’s not make ANY pension payments at all. That’ll certainly solve the problem. I guess there are people that buy into such nonsense. Who knew?

  56. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

    - makes ZERO sense -

    I can think of about $96 billion reasons it makes sense to enforce the payments.

  57. - L.S. - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

    Rauner has shown a pretty shocking arrogance on the campaign trail so far. First his “I may have to shut down the government for a couple weeks” nonsense, acting like that was no big deal. “Don’t worry, I’ll just shut down the state and get my way. Big Bruce is hear baby.” Now apparently arguing AGAINST the state paying it’s bills is a conservative talking point. He seems content to run a Scott Walker xerox copy campaign of demonizing middle-class workers. This hasn’t worked for many a billionare candidate (including the last GOP Presidential nominee), it won’t work for him. He’s clearly not ready for prime time.

  58. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:49 pm:


    Ryan also paid what he was supposed to according to the ramp …

  59. - Meanderthal - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    There is also a “guarantee” to me as a taxpayer that the budget will be balanced, but it never is.
    State workers bellyache more than anyone on the planet. You people are going to have to accept that your benefits are going to be reduced and a 401k style benefit for future workers implemented if the state is to have any chance of getting out of this mess.

  60. - matt jones - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:54 pm:

    Let me take a quick work break here to post.
    Mr. Rauner, as a lifelong Republican who has walked and called and written checks for the GOP for more than 2 decades, let me invite you to come to Peoria, and explain to me how living up to the clear obligations of the Illinois Constitution and simple morality (paying what one is legally obligated to pay) is proof of one’s “lackey” status? Please explain why adherence to the oath “to uphold the Constitution” is evidence of being controlled by “union bosses”. You have gone from being someone I would not have preferred to someone i am beginning to abhor. It is your kind of hyperbolic ignorance that is making the election of Democrats as a “reasonable alternative” all the more common. Please come to Peoria, look me in the eye and TRY to earn my primary vote. But you better bring a cogent thought cuz’ this crap ain’t cuttin it.

  61. - Skirmisher - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    It is going to gag me, but if my dismal choice turns out to be Clueless and Unscrupulous Rauner versus Clueless-But-Well-Meaning Quinn, I will have to pull that lever for Quinn. Man, is that going to hurt! Thank you, Illinois GOP, for offering a welcoming santuary for the state’s most apalling screwballs.

  62. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    Oy gevalt, what a putz. If this shmendrik thinks he has a any chance @ winning the gov race with this dreck he really is meshuga.

  63. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    So that there is no confusion, Rauner’s old firm, GTCR, has taken in plenty of State dough. $120 million directly from TRS and tens of millions more from funds of funds bought by the other systems.

  64. - Obamas Puppy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    It is simple he wants to bankrupt the systems, try to settle the unfunded libilities for pennies on the dollar and test the fact that the state is the final guarantor. Immoral, reprehensible and pridictable from a knee jerk neanderthal Republican who feels all public employees and teachers are second class citizens.

  65. - JustaJoe - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    Who’s Rauner?

  66. - cassandra - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Maybe Rauner is a secret Quinn supporter. By saying silly things like this, he allows Quinn to sound like the wise and fiscally responsible pol he wants us to believe in. The one who wraps up an attack on middle class retiree benefits in a nice cuddly fiscal responsibility blanket.

    And whatever either of them says, future Illinois politicians are gonna do what they’re gonna do on pensions and everything else. We can make it easier or harder but unless somebody out there has solved time travel, there is not a darn thing we can do about it.

  67. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    - Obamas Puppy -,

    To your point,

    If it is Rauner’s “end game” and political strategy to bankrupt the system, even using the threat/tool of “shutting down” the government, how does he do that Constitutionally, and under what authority can Rauner do both?

    There are two bugaboos I have and one is the State Pensions.

    No snark, as a strategy, how can Rauner do both if that is what he is up to as a campaign strategy?

  68. - Dirt Diver - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    Arthur - You’re correct. He’s a bigger idiot than I previously thought, or his retirement income is fixed and not dependent upon GTCR’s performance, otherwise proposing to skip or short payments to the sytems would negatively impact his former firm.

    Don’t you love the hypocrisy from private sector titans that benefit from government funding and act like the government is this terrible burden?

  69. - horseracer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    dupage dan, your Yiddish is delightful.

    RNUG - please don’t suggest George Ryan made the complete pension payment every year as Quinn has. George Ryan did not - Pat Quinn did.

  70. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:23 pm:

    Oh, and Rauner is just nuts with this talk. He, or his advisors, should know better. His exploratory campaign is going to hit China before it finds Illinois.

  71. - Rod - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:29 pm:

    I think several weeks ago with Mr. Rauner’s announcement of running for Governor someone on this blog not in jest stated he was the right man at the right time for the Republican party. Still think so? I stated I believed that Pat Quinn could beat him easily even with the Governor’s bad approval ratings and that Lisa would put a wiping on him. I think so more than ever, please bring him on.

    Mr. Rauner is almost pathologically hostile to unions. He wants to end all dues check offs, and he supports all right to work legislation. I have become convinced that the root of Mr. Rauner’s problems have to do with how tight his shirt collar and tie are on his neck. This can be seen in all of his video recordings. This has limited the blood flow from the external carotid arteries to the brain, which in turn may have caused a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Much of the confusion that posters on the blog today have noted in Mr. Rauner’s position on pension payments could be due to a TIA.

  72. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:31 pm:

    He (Rauner) wants to whatttttt?!!!

  73. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:32 pm:

    I see the Biased “Unbiased Oberserver” is back to normal form. I thought he actually had said something reasonable a couple of days ago.

    Well true to form, he brings out the One Percenter’s favorite mantra - class warfare. Frankly, BUO, there is class warfare going on. The One Percenters have been doing their best to squeeze every bit of profit that they can out of the middle class. Their tactics on maximizing profit by underfunding and then killing private sector defined benefit pensions has been notorious. They have been so successful, they are trying to convince their private sector victims to help lead the charge against the public sector and create more victims or their greed.

    Their problem in Illinois is that there is a constitutional guarantee of those benefits. Unfortunately, the poor leadership shown by Illinois public officials in not properly funding these benefits has resulted in a crisis situation. Rather than focus on actions that can ameliorate the problem, they want to disregard the constitution and try to soak public employees for as much money as they can. Now BUO wants us to embrace another One Percenter who endorses the bad behavior that got us into this situation.

    BUO also likes to use the One Percenter boogie man - unions - to obfuscate the issues.

    Again, BUO, you can opine as you want, but your disingenuous nickname is offensive.

  74. - Yossarian Lives - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:36 pm:

    It’s a strong guarantee because (at least in the latest version of SB 35, the Biss bill voted down last week in the Senate) it gives the systems a legal right to sue the state and any member of a retirement system to right to sue the system to command performance if it fails to file suit against the state. So the workers and retirees don’t have to sit on their hands while the administration or the legislature or both find ways to mollify the guys who run the pension systems. Could a court rule that the state doesn’t have to pay (or can be put on an extended payment plan) because of fiscal emergency? Sure. But that’s much less of a sure bet than letting the General Assembly make that call.

  75. - Yossarian Lives - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Correction: “the right to sue the system”

  76. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    “So that there is no confusion, Rauner’s old firm, GTCR, has taken in plenty of State dough. $120 million directly from TRS and tens of millions more from funds of funds bought by the other systems.”

    Do you know if that was before, during, or after he had Stu Levine on the payroll for $25k/month.

  77. - StayFree75 - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    You give the general electorate too much credit, unbiased.

  78. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    If Rauner is lookig for the 12,000 voters who agree with him, he will find them, at the cost of $150 a vote.

    He will probably find more voters than that, but his cost per vote may be estimated low also. Blair Hull is the IL standard for “cost per vote” at about $29 million for 134,453 votes, or $216 per vote.

  79. - Captain Illini - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    Norseman…I’ve said this before, I don’t care if you’re a 1% 10% or 30%…you become a hypocrit by claiming UBO is espousing class warfare, then YOU start into class warfare…The issue before us is Rauner the No-Class Idiot who in my opinion will not win the Primary and will have exhausted his 15 seconds of fame before he figures out how to wind his mickey mouse watch.

  80. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    - Six Degrees of Separation -,

    I was being a bit snarky, I didn’t think anyone was really counting on my math of his support or his cost per vote.

    My Bad.

  81. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:03 pm:

    The only way to deal with a big problem is make it much, much worse.

    –Candidate Bruce Rauner.

    This is going to be such a great cycle.

  82. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:04 pm:


    Quite the contrary, it’s going to be fun to see if Brucie can break ol’ Blair’s “record” in a losing cause.

  83. - Endangered Moderate Species - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:04 pm:

    Every gubernatorial campaign team will link Rauner to Blagojevich through Comp Benefits and Stu Levine.

    We know Rauner can throw the mud. How will he respond when the mud begins hitting him? My guess, not well.

  84. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:10 pm:

    I think Rauner will break the record on the financial, but I am going to be more interested in seeing who ended up with more raw votes, Blair or Bruce.

    The votes themselves will be “north” of $250 each I would guess, knowing the benchmark of Hull.

  85. - Samurai - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    Bruce’s handlers must have told him to wear brown for that warm likable look. Brown kakis, brown shoes, brown sport jacket and drive around the State in a Ford; a real everyman.

    When does he turn on Dillard or Rutherford?

  86. - Joe M - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:22 pm:

    This week Republican primary candidate Rauner talks about skipping pension payments. Last week he talked about how there would be a temporary shut-down of Illinois government if he became governor due to a strike that would come about when he rescinded all of the state employees’ contracts.

    Last governor’s race the Republican candidate against Quinn said things like he would do away with the Illinois Office of Education and contract their work out to professionals.

    And people wonder why state employee unions keep voting for Democrats.

  87. - redleg - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:23 pm:

    Rauner sounds….confused. He’ll make an excellent governor.

    This is shaping up to be high entertainment. Lackey Quinn vs Running Dog Rauner. I did get a chuckle out of Rauner’s use of the word lackey. I hadn’t heard that one since the cold war era.

  88. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    If I had that kind of election budget, I’d shut my trap until election day and then send out money trucks to all the polling places, with my name on a 20 to all takers.

  89. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:30 pm:

    This particular right wing talking point is the most ludicrous, however:

    ===“It’s clear that career politicians in Springfield don’t have the backbone to stand up to the union bosses they depend on for re-election and are willing to sacrifice Illinois taxpayers for their own political needs.”===

    If the “career politicians” in Springfield were in the pockets of the union bosses, um, public employees wouldn’t be under attack now would they, Bruce?

    Quinn would squash this guy in a head-to-head, but I doubt Quinn’s gonna be the Dem primary victor. I also doubt, really-really doubt, that Rauner is going to be the Republican primary winner either, but then I don’t have “Unbiased” Observer’s crystal ball.

  90. - Ruby - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:34 pm:

    Governor Quinn is speaking like a person of integrity. I appreciate his candor is assessing the state pension funding problem.

  91. - unbiased observer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:36 pm:


    I am not a supporter of rauner, I don’t even know anything about him really. from what I gather on this page it doesn’t seem like he is a good candidate for a variety of reasons.

    however, what I am saying, and I will try to make this very clear to you, what I am saying is that if the upcoming statewide elections start to develop into a referendum on pension reform because statewide candidates start to base their entire campaign upon these issues, it will be interesting to see how the politics of this issue sort themselves out.

    will the well-organized, highly-vocal but minority anti pension reform folks win out or will enough of the general population who will not want to have their taxes increased to support this small minorities pensions win?

    this is not a democrat vs republican issue I can assure you. will the increased publicity brought by people like rauner and brady and Quinn and many legislators running for office talking about pension reforms have an impact on how things play out with pension reform.

    I think you would be a fool to discount this. we really have not had a statewide evaluation of this issue as we haven’t been in a crisis like previously.

    there will be a lot of Illinois citizens thinking about these issues and voting based upon them, and this has not been the case previously.

  92. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    Here is a Chicago Sun Times letter to the editor from Quinn’s press secretary, hitting back Eden Martin over Martin’s criticism of the AFSCME contract. I didn’t read Martin’s article, but from this letter it seems that Martin suggested a similar thing as Rauner, not having or not honoring contracts.

  93. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:42 pm:

    Being a contrarian at heart, to me, Unbiased Observer makes a great deal of sense. As usual, nobody likes the viewpoint Rauner is expressing, but if those unfunded pension obligations are actually in excess of $90 billion dollars, then the constitutional guarantees are going to be unlikely to endure. All you have to do is to look at Cyprus, and likely soon to be others.

    Imagine if Rauner comes out with numbers on what is going to happen (in increases) to individual’s state income taxes if such unfunded ($90 bil++) pension obligations exist. Constitutional guarantees or not, that will have a measurable political impact.

    Rauner isn’t playing for today. He’s playing for at least a year from now, where the entire playing field could be substantially different. He’s taking a huge risk (he’s an outsider in the political world), but if the economic cards turn his way, he’s going to be a ‘visionary’ and he’s going to be able to say “I told you so”. And having that edge can carry you a long way (both in a primary and a general), it can put the social conservatives on the defensive, and could also cement his reputation as the finance guy who can fix the mess that the career pols put us in.

    “He saw it coming, he told us, and now he knows how to fix it”.

    But it’s a huge, enormous “IF”.

    We’ll see.

  94. - titan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    ===but you can’t be stupid and be worth 3/4 of a billion dollars (inherited wealth excluded from this statement).===

    Perhaps not, but one certainly can focus all of one’s considerable intelligence on a very narrow and profitable area…and have essentially no practical knowlege in many others.

    I used to see that with some clients (MDs were the worst, many lawyers and tech savants too) they took their “genius” self concept and thought it applied to fields in which they turned out to be utterly incompetent.

  95. - T.O. - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    Does Rauner understand if the state decided to quit paying into the pension fund in order to “bankrupt” the system, a judge could, and likely would, compel retiree payments directly from the general fund? To the tune of 7-8 billion a year?

  96. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 5:12 pm:

    ===will the well-organized, highly-vocal but minority anti pension reform folks win out or will enough of the general population who will not want to have their taxes increased to support this small minorities pensions win?===

    Is your shift key broken?

    Anyway, the “anti-pension reform” language you keep using is silly, and purposefully paints people who are for keeping the contractual rights of the citizenry intact in a negative way. Although you consider yourself unbiased, it is clear where you stand with the language you use.

    Regardless, I have made this comment to you before - politics and public support aren’t everything - there is a constitution for a reason. Plus, no matter if SB1 gets passed or not, the state is still going to need to raise taxes to fix their structural deficits. I would encourage you to look into it.

  97. - unbiased observer - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 5:23 pm:


    i agree that there will need to be both increased tax revenue AND some sort of pension reform.

    feel free not to read the comments if my abstaining from using the shift key diminishes your reading experience. this is a blog not homework.

    i respect your opinions on these issues, even if i don’t fully agree with you.

    i agree, there are laws and constitutions for a reason, however they are not immutable. there are mechanisms to change both the former and the latter. they are not easily changed, which is the way it should be.

    im sorry that my moniker offends you, i will consider changing it as others have mentioned that as well. but you will still know who i am because i probably wont start using the shift key. it just takes so much time and there is so much to do.

    i think i tend to look at things from a more political perspective than many of the people on here. the legal and moral are incredibly important, but don’t discount politics my friend.

    it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  98. - Mama - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 5:39 pm:

    Is Rauner running for Governor on the Tea Party ticket? His statement sounds like it came from the Tea Party talking heads.

  99. - Mama - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 5:53 pm:

    Illinois needs a Governor who can read, understand and enforce the Illinois Constitution! Oh, and the Governor will also need to understand basic math! Who fits these requirements best? (Dillard, Quinn, Madigan, Rauner, etc..)

  100. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 6:10 pm:

    What’s next for Rauner? Maybe a helicopter over Soldier Field whining about brown people trying to make a better life for themselves?

  101. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 6:15 pm:

    “- Votecounter - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    when a business goes bankrupt all of it’s obligations are restructured.”

    What makes many state employees current or now retired, so angry is that there is so much money wasted, be it CMS, programs that fund pork projects, social programs (some which have been mentioned here before) that either were pork or thrown away money (Blago’s money to the fire burned church and daycare). Go through and get rid of the waste, the pork, the misspent funds, then look at the pensions. Whatever your opinion of them, there are many state employees who do a good job and have worked hard for their salaries and what benefits and pensions were promised by both the state constitution and contracts.

  102. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 6:49 pm:

    Rauner just disqualified himself from the office, in my view. If people, both here and elsewhere, wonder why the state of Illinois keeps electing Democrats, Rauner ought to help show them — it’s because our Republicans are so incredibly bad. It takes a particular talent to do even worse than Blago and make Quinn actually look good, but here it is on full display.

    Remind me also to take it with a pinch of salt any time one of these people talks about honoring the rule of law.

  103. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 6:53 pm:

    BUO, you get points for not being a Rauner supporter. You confused me with some of the buzz words used by him and other One Percenters.

    But those of us who oppose illegal reductions to the pensions are aware of the rhetoric - mostly misinformed, some downright false - being aimed at the public. That is why I was surprised that a public poll highlighted by Rich in the blog showed some significant support for public workers. This survey went against the usual train of thought that the public has a negative opinion of government workers, with the exception of teachers.

    As has been said of some many of others, there are plans that can ameliorate the problem without violating the constitution. Because they don’t cause enough blood on the floor, they are being ignored by the drivers’ of this reduction effort.

  104. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 6:56 pm:

    @Votecounter. No reorganizing a state. The normal rules on corporate or municipal bankruptcy simply do not apply to a sovereign entity like a state. There is no restructuring this. You either amend the constitution, or pay up. And amending the constitution is a political long-shot because of the way in which Governors Edgar, Ryan and Blagojevich stiffed the system. The state of Illinois effectively borrowed against its pension system in order to keep taxes artificially low, and now the bill is due, and we can’t go into bankruptcy court like New York City in the 1970s because there’s no such legal escape for state governments. It’s worth noting that Illinois has a long history of stiffing its pension system and that’s why the constitution in 1970 was written so stringently on pensions. If you think we can turn politically on a dime away from this history, I’ve beachfront in Antarctica to sell you.

  105. - county chairman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 7:30 pm:

    mr r is behind times with his blather he needs to read the sec report his agenda for ill is creeping out to blame workers for the legislatures lack of fiscal mismanagement is beyond stupid

  106. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 7:35 pm:

    He’s not the first governor to run on skipping pension payments. Just the first to do so publicly.

  107. - Really? - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 7:45 pm:

    Great article!

  108. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 7:53 pm:


    Valid point. I was not saying BUO was espousing class warfare, but I was responding to his introduction of a phrase that I’ve seen used too often to counter criticism of policies that benefit the One Percenters or adversely affect middle and lower class people. I don’t like the use of the phrase by them and agree that it shouldn’t be used by me in debating a policy issue.

  109. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 7:55 pm:

    Cinci@3:44, I don’t recall, but I’m sure your guy or his handlers know by now.

  110. - county chairman - Tuesday, Mar 26, 13 @ 8:37 pm:

    to six degrease of separation he is already fired up the money truck ask your state rep if they been summoned to chicago yet most of them have

  111. - muon - Wednesday, Mar 27, 13 @ 1:01 am:

    Judgment Day@4:42 - “but if those unfunded pension obligations are actually in excess of $90 billion dollars, then the constitutional guarantees are going to be unlikely to endure. All you have to do is to look at Cyprus, and likely soon to be others.” The 1970 Constitutional Convention considered the insolvency of the funds and noted that the state would have to switch to a pay as you go system to cover pension benefits.

  112. - Arictgata - Tuesday, Apr 9, 13 @ 10:41 pm:

    Can I just say what a relief to locate somebody who in fact knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know the best way to bring an issue to light and make it valuable. Even more people have to read this and have an understanding of this side of the story. I cant believe youre not alot more well known simply because you undoubtedly have the gift.

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