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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013

* Have you any confidence that the General Assembly can solve the state’s pension problem by July? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

customer survey

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Solve is a big word.
    If I have a ruptured radiator hose in my truck… do I solve the problem by using duct tape or some other means to repair the hose for a short time? still needing a new hose eventually?

    Or is solving the problem replacing the hose?

    I see solving the problem as solving it. Making it so Illinois A: has this under control for the near term, and B: has it under control for the long term.

    I see them making a big huge hoopla over some change/bill. Then of course 3 years later we will see it didnt do enough and the financial trajectory of the state, while changed slightly, is still on a bad course.

  2. - archimedes - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    I voted none. For two reasons, though. First, will the GA get a bill to Quinn? I would vote “a little” on that. But, solving the whole thing is another matter entirely.

    Solving this means considering not just passing a bill, but also other actions (revenue and cuts) if the bill passed meets legal contstraints. Solving means a protacted legal battle if the bill passed relies on police power - and even then, more action will be needed.

    The General Assembly and Governor (past and present) have taken the expedient solution (for 43 years) too long to escape any consequences - either in terms of risk of power losses (political presence) or in terms of long, hard work to bring back financial integrity.

    Gutting the earned pension benefits, frankly, is another expedient (though politically risky) manuever.

  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    I have a little confidence. The fact that each chamber passed a bill is encouraging. The GOP is the wild card in my opinion. Cross couldn’t get more than half his caucus to support SB1, and Radogno couldn’t find too many in her caucus either. And SB1 was the more “Republican” bill.

    Now, as usual, they’ll say their votes aren’t needed, the Democrats can do this without them, blah, blah, blah. And that’s true (thanks Bill!). But they are about to be exposed if they let this chance slip by.

    The same HGOPs that couldn’t press the green button on SB1 would love to vote for 2404, which is why the Speaker won’t call it. The Speaker really wants to end the “free lunch” with the cost shift, which the GOP opposes too. Those seem to be the sticking points and I don’t think anything has changed in the GOP caucuses to alter the dynamic.

    It’s a pickle for sure, but there ought to be a way through it if the politicians put the best interests of the state before their political interests.

    I can dream, can’t I?

  4. - skeptical - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    Until the GA takes on the revenue issue, this will not be “solved” and the political will does not exist to address revenue.

  5. - Just Me - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    I voted a little because I think they’ll find some small change or improvement, and then everyone will go home to publicize it as some monumental change.

  6. - Joe M - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:42 am:

    My gut feeling is that whatever the conference committee will come up with (if they come up with anything) - will be unconstitutional.

    Until the General Assembly looks at pensions as the contracts they are - and only comes up with solutions that don’t violate contract law, their efforts will be futile.

  7. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    “the problem”: the choice of words predetermines the responses. Why is paying employees for their earned compensation in the form of retirement benefits a “problem” but paying every other person and entity owed money by the State not considered a “problem?”

  8. - Pale Rider - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I have none. I think that MJM is the cause of this problem and I don’t think that he is capable of cleaning up the mess he has created.

  9. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    It has been said that past behavior is a reasonable predictor of future behavior.

    Just sayin’

  10. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    I voted none. I disagree that the GA is unwilling or unable to provide solutions, or that any solution is not a real fix.

    I voted none because I beleive the Speaker has dug in on what he wants to have happen and is willing to prohibit voting on any proposal other then his. based on the Speakers assitance that it his way or the highway, and his refusal to allow anyone to vote on anything other then his version, I dont see a solution soon.

    The problem would already be solved if the house called up the competing proposal for a vote.

    On a side note, it would be interesting if those who are frtohing at the mouth to pull benefits from other people had to also have their retirment plans seized and taxed donw to simialr levels woud be so strongly demanding action. Its easy to demand that somone else be railroaded to solve a problem so long as its not you.

  11. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    Voted None.

    While I’m more optimistic that something will happen than I was back when Quinn first called the special session and MJM wasn’t bothering to meet with Quinn and Cullerton, I’m less optimistic than RonOglesby that there will be a bill passed.

    I’m hopeful, but not optimistic that the Senate will agree to whatever the conference committee recommends.

  12. - second street - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    My vote was “a little” but just meant that they’ll pass something at the end of today’s special session and the reported special session next month. Chances are great that whatever they pass will be unconstitutional. Anybody think they’ll put the judges in now?

  13. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    What part of disfunctional is being misunderstood?

  14. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    I voted no because of the wide gap between the existing plans. Many consider Madigan’s plan unconstitutional, and others consider Cullerton’s plan insufficient.

    I would like to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not holding my breath.

  15. - Stones - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    What have they done so far (on any issue) to inspire confidence?

  16. - D P Gumby - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    Whatever happens, it will not “solve” the problem and it is bound to be a rip-off of existing retirees and probably unconstitutional.

  17. - catch22 - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    I voted NONE. Since the Democrats have taken over this State has been on a steady decline.

  18. - Anon. - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:03 pm:

    I voted “none.” First, there doesn’t appear to be sufficient consensus among the leaders to pass anything. Second, I am highly confident that none of the proposals so far is constitutional. Third, I am absolutely positive that no matter how much the General Assembly manages to cut future pension expenses, they will never fund the plan at a sufficient level to avoid future crises.

  19. - C-dog - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    Will a July vote require a 60-40 majority OR a simple majority. This is a factor.

  20. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    WBEZ spoofing the “pension crisis” hyperbole.

  21. - Bill - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:08 pm:


    Partisanship, and the lack of term-limits have combined to remove all incentives to govern.

  22. - Sunshine - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    No chance to solve without Madigan saying so, and I don’t see him really doing any meaningful arm twisting.

    The state got us here and are trying to blame and punish the worker. Anything the state proposes goes severely against the grain of all those who faithfully contributed over the years.

    Pretty much anything is a political grave digger, so doing little or nothing is the road politicians are trained to do….it’s in their blood.

  23. - History Teacher - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    No way, no how. Madigan has set things up to fail again and again. Whatever his agenda might be, it certainly isn’t coming up with a fair and constitutional solution for the pension issue.

  24. - one of the 35 - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    The question is , Can they solve the problem” and not, “will they”. They can, but they likely will not.

  25. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    None. Both chambers and the governor have had plenty of time to cobble together something that everyone lived with, and have failed. An extra month will give us something wrapped up in band aids.

    They made the mess and can’t even agree on which shovel to use to clean up the mess they made. Can we as a State look any more pathetic?

  26. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    @one of the 35

    actually, its not. Its “Have you any confidence…”
    sure they could. Hell they could do anything. Do you have confidence that they can.

  27. - Hank - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    By July of what year?

  28. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    I voted none for reasons other commenters noted above: anything that does pass will either (a) not solve the problem and/or (b) be declared unconstitutional eventually.
    The rules of financial investing clearly state that time is the most important factor, and I think there is too little time left before the boomers start drawing pensions to “solve” the problem.

  29. - Bemused - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    I voted none. Two key issues to me were time frame and the term “Solved”. I posted a long time back that I thought they would get thru this by spreading the pain around. That is not what I am seeing. Most of what I have seen put forth only gives some breathing room as it works thru the court system. It may all come down to pay the Piper and change the constitution.

  30. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    None whatsoever. They have had years to not indulge in the behavior that got us here and didn’t fix that. I don’t see them really fixing this in less than a month.

  31. - plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    Waiting for the clink of the can being kicked down the road again.

  32. - Bobbysox - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 12:53 pm:

    None. Even if a miracle occurs and they pass something, it will be unconstitutional and thrown out. Problem not solved.

  33. - Midstate Indy - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    There seems to exist no solution to this problem - obviously unfunded liability needs to be addressed, but can/should that be done on the backs of the employees which hold a valid collective bargaining agreement with the State?

    Aside from the constitutional limitations on how/if employee pensions may be changed, the measure of those changes remains a point of contention - 401k, defined benefit, hybrid, COLA etc. is something the factions of the GA is having difficulty coming to agreement on.

    With the social pressures that exist from constituents when the spotlight is on a special session, GA member behavior may well become erratic in as individual member power struggles may come into play. Media oversight and the other external influences will be heightened as this special session moves forward as well.

    I anticipate a very narrowly limited, if any, measure by which this problem is addressed, and am certainly not holding my breath for anything that could even scratch the surface of a solution to be passed.

  34. - Andrew Szakmary - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:32 pm:

    I voted no, because there is not, and never was, a problem with the pensions in the first place. The normal cost of SURS, for example, is 11% of payroll. That contribution rate is pretty much in line with private employers, who pay the 6.2% employer portion of the SS payroll tax and typically contribute 5-6% of salary into a 401k plan on top of that.

    The reason the state now contributes 29% of payroll to SURS is to make up for past underfunding, which, in turn, stems from 40 years of artificially low taxation in Illinois at the state level prior to 2011. Clearly, the root cause of Illinois’ fiscal problems is inadequate revenue. At best, politicians will agree to pass some form of pension diminishment, and when it is struck down in state and/or federal court they will finally have the political cover to extend the 5% income tax and impose it on retirement income.

  35. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    None. Zip. Nada. Oogats.

    Don’t see the Speaker moving much off his COLA-killer. That’s unlikely to pass, and if it does, it will either be tied up in litigation and/or crash at the Supreme Court.

  36. - otownie - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    Agree with Andrew … and besides shorting the retirement systems the state has been under funding many other programs. Reform the income tax or turn out out the lights and we can all move to (enter your preferred state here).

  37. - otownie - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    Voted none.

  38. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    None, it is not in the DNA of a Democrat to cut any expenses, other than budget gimmicks.

  39. - Tequila Mockingbird - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 2:18 pm:

    None. The democrats at the helm do not have the desire or the fortitude to cross the unions that gave them their power and help keep them there.

  40. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    “Solve” the problem for whom? For Ty and Trib and civic/commercial club corporate millionaires? If a plan closer to sb1 becomes law, or a combo of the worst elements of both bills, you will need to “solve” the problem of old teachers and retired teachers living on cat food and dieing for lack of health insurance. The clean answer is bail on both sb1 & 2404 and adopt martire’s Ctba plan, a 50 year refi of state caused liability debt to the systems. Why cram the “solve” into 30 years remaining current wrecked 50 yearpension ramp. Disaster politics at it’s worst, create a crisis to slash to safety net. Are these leaders still calling themselves democrats?

  41. - downstate commissioner - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    I voted “a little”. They probably won’t, but there is enough noise about it that they may do something, whether it actually solves the problem or not.

  42. - calligirl - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    As a retired state employee I have watched the IL Legislature take money from the Retirement Funds for too long. For them to expect us to make up the money they took is ridiculous. All Retirement Funds from all five State Retirement programs should be consolidated and all past IL employees should all get the same pension. It is unfair to have Legislators, Judges, etc. to have their own retirement pension. We should all have the same retirement. The Legislature in this State has for too long looked after themselves instead of looking out for the employees. I did not have time to read all the comments so I hope this doesn’t make a repeat comment. Thank You!

  43. - Realist - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 2:54 pm:

    None, and it wouldn’t matter if they did. Everything that’s been proposed is unconstitutional, not to mention unethical. And those who have voted for these bills have questionable ethics - to try to balance the retirement system on the backs of the only people who have upheld their end of paying into it is disgusting. This is a statewide problem, and it requires a statewide solution. And that includes revenue. After all, where did those dollars that were supposed to go into the retirement fund go? There should have been no problem with funding the retirement system. Illinois state employees already pay almost 30% more toward their retirement than private sector employees pay toward Social Security. If their benefits are cut back to or below SS, the State of Illinois owes them a refund of those payments- not an increase to 11% of their income! In addition, non-compounding COLAs are no COLA at all. It only adjusts for the cost of living for the first year after retirement. After that, retirees will continually lose ground to inflation. And while inflation is low now, my parents remember the 1970s and worry about inflation of 10-12%.

    This attempt to saddle the workers with all of the responsibility for cleaning up a mess the legislature made is disgusting.

  44. - olddog - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    I voted no. But I don’t blame Madigan, Quinn, the General Assembly or any of the usual suspects. The “pension problem” is a revenue problem and it won’t go away until/unless we all realize:

    1. You get what you pay for; and

    2. You can’t get adequate services (pensions, school funding, timely payment to government contractors, whatever) if you don’t pay for them.

    It’s beginning to look like we might get some kind of a pension bill now, but it won’t address the problem.

  45. - Spiney Norman - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Except for MJM’s constituency. The rest of this state did not vote for MJM and he does not represent us! He needs to do his job and let our (not His!) elected representatives vote as they feel their respective constituency wants them to vote. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  46. - Harry - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    I didn’t vote–could have said “little” chance they will pass some sort of bill, but “no chance” it will solve the problem. The best imaginable outcome would buy about 3 years like the 2010 reforms… or until the next market crash. Neither bill has anything that would make the system less prone to implosion if the market goes South, it’s still defined benefit and all the risk remains on the State; it’s only a matter of time until it blows up again. No one is even talking about that, any more.

  47. - Harry - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:18 pm:

    All the commenters throwing “unconstitutional” around ought to look at what is going on in Detroit, despite the Michigan Constitution’s contractual protection of accrued pension benefits, and maybe get a little real.

  48. - G.I. Joe - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:23 pm:

    - Pale Rider - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I have none. I think that MJM is the cause of this problem and I don’t think that he is capable of cleaning up the mess he has created.

    I don’t think MJM WANTS to pass anything reasonable. If MJM doesn’t want it it won’t happen no matter what. If MJM wants it - watch out ’cause it’s going to happen. Why pay the other legislators? Save the money. Send them home. Five people can run this state and one of them does most of the running.

  49. - BR - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:24 pm:

    Until the Unions stranglehold on the State of Illinois has ended, we will continue to be bankrupt. Even if the pension problem was solved today the Unions would create another black hole where all our money goes within days with another strike.

  50. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:28 pm:

    I’m commenting after voting w/o reading the other comments first.

    Voted none … because they are trying to solve the cost of the pension funding when they should be trying to solve the revenue problem of having enough money to pay for the pensions and other State programs.

    You can’t solve anything if your definition of the problem is wrong.

  51. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    Harry @ 3:18 pm:

    Much different (and relatively speaking, weaker) legal protections in Detroit and Michigan.

  52. - Frenchie Mendoza - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    What’s with all this “the people come first” nonsense in Quinn’s speech today?

    The retirees and state workers are “the people.” They are “the taxpayers.” They provided the state with their labor and expertise. Good grief, if anyone should “come first” (whatever that means) it should be the “people” that worked for — and continue to work for — the state.

    Despicable rhetoric from Quinn — a not-so-subtle dig at the people that provide the services that all the other “people” depend on. Good grief. How crazy - and how insulting.

  53. - BR - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:09 pm:

    Frenchie wrote: The retirees and state workers are “the people.”
    NO, these are they people FLEECING taxpayers to the tune of 100 BILLION Dollars..

  54. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:13 pm:

    I said “a little” and it’s really hope more than confidence. Whether you like the Speaker or not is irrelevant here. He’s the only one with a plan that pulls all the levers. A lot of us just received the first installment of real estate taxes. People paying them are more than fed up, they’re actually frightened. This can’t continue. I believe people are sympathetic to retirees and public union employees, but they’ve come to realize that these folks are living and retiring in dramatically better shape than the average Joe. We get that they earned it. We get that the state was negligent. What the property tax payer doesn’t get is why they are the only ones doing the bailing here. For this to get done, there needs to be a perspective change that SB1 is the best awful solution out there and there is no chance of a more painless one that gets the job done. It’s a bitter pill all the way around, but it’s time to pay the piper for being negligent in the past. That goes for legislators, public employees and voters. The alternative is so much worse. It wouldn’t just hurt people, it would devastate them.

  55. - wishbone - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    It’s time to forget about “solving the problem”. It won’t be solved in the conventional sense of that word. In the end sufficient cuts will be made in programs and pensions which, along with modest revenue enhancements, will enable the state to skate along forever. No one, not the taxpayer, not the state worker, nor any other recipient of state funds will escape some amount of pain to pay for this colossal failure in governance.

  56. - Endangered Moderate Species - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    Confidence is gained when someone has a proven track record of addressing and correcting challenges. We have seen little evidence of successful past practices on this issue.

    “Solving the problem”. The commenters on this page are in disagreement to what is the problem. The legislators are being conflicted by those whom believe the problem is either a lack of revenue or to generous of benefits.

    Other items conflicting the discussion are constitutional muster, pro or anti-union sentiment, tax increases and partisanship.

    They will be lucky to find agreement on how to kick the can down the road, let alone solving the problem.

  57. - PG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:24 pm:

    I’m not confident at all in a solution. After all, the legislators were the ones who created this mess. However, the business community has everything to gain. Are they busily rubbing their hands greedily together and seeing dollar signs? They can only profit from a switch away from pensions, I believe.

    Meanwhile, the people who have already retired and are living on their pensions stand to lose over 30 percent of what they were promised when they retired. How will they make up the loss? They are taxpayers too. State workers do not get social security, nor any survivor benefits from spouses either. Their pensions are their only source of income in their later years.

    No, I’m not confident at all. Seems to me Springfield is in the business of breaking state law and ruining peoples’ lives. Risky business? You bet.

  58. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:25 pm:

    “retiring dramatically better than the average Joe”

    It’s not as good as you think. I’ve heard horror stories from retirees about how expensive learjets are to maintain, and how it’s hard to find good limo drivers.

  59. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    To: “BR” at 4:09 pm. Come on, Bruce, we know that’s your opinion of state employees,state retirees and probably union members in general, but why not use you full name Mr. Rauner?

  60. - And the horse they rode in on - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    Look for legislature to yet punt again.

    Perhaps they are hoping for better field position. Then again this isn’t all a bad thing. Certainly the State will avoid the costs and embarrassment of any of the current schemes being ruled unconstitutional. Culerton’s plan might have a some chance but for sure any of the others proposed so far, like Madigan’s, I would give 98 percent odds of being overturned in the courts.

    As for the issue of the state’s debt far too many folks freak out about debt not placing or understanding government debts in the proper economic context. I will only view this current manufactured crisis as a real crisis once the following remedies have actually been put in place and are not achieving positive results.

    One, a fool proof legal mechanism is in place that absolutely makes impossible any future ‘pension holidays’ on the states part. Remember had the state not skipped their payments in the first place we would not even be having this conversation.

    Two, all the current pension debt has been re-amortized for 50 years.

    Three, either the state institutes a progressive income tax OR keeps the recent two percent income tax increase in place until the pension debts are down to a reasonable level.

    And finally, if any changes in the COLA are still deemed necessary then only way to pass constitutional muster (i.e. no diminishment or impairment) would be to change it to being fully indexed to the CPI, NOT some percentage or lessor of scheme like the ones currently proposed. This would mean if one retires with a 30K pension their purchasing power SHALL remain at 30k for life. That would satisfy the constitutional requirement.

  61. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:43 pm:

    I also voted none. They might pass something (likely a variation on SB1, Madigans baby) but it won’t “fix” the problem because it will be a diminishment that (if laws and the constitution mean anything) will get thrown out by the Supremes. Has anyone noticed the reps and senators picked for the committee? (IMO) With Bliss and Nekritz both on the committee, nothing will be passed out for chamber votes without Madigan’s approval anyway…

  62. - History on my side - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    Voted “none” - even though the state has hit a crisis point in regards to this issue, there is no easy answer to this issue both politically & from a policy perspective, if there were, we’d seen it done years ago. If anything, they will continue to tinker around the policy edges before July which will have no effect on the larger, more pressing pension problem, the state’s massive unfunded pension liability and awful credit rating.

    I do have hope though, as the state with the lowest credit rating, we can only go up from here, even if it isn’t for another few years.

  63. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:48 pm:

    BR- Bruce?

  64. - AmPhotog - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 4:53 pm:


    The problem is not revenue but the expense of the pensions. Since pensions are calculated on final years salaries, cut salaries to balance fund shortfalls.

  65. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:03 pm:

    What has changed from any past year? It is the same basic leadership that has fought over trivial details and tried to outflank the other groups. This could have been solved years ago, but it is far easier to spout talking points and claim it is someone elses fault.

  66. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:07 pm:

    BR @ 4:09 pm:

    Time to educate yourself.

    The employees and retirees accepted a jobs that were offered, with a specific salary (often below market) and benefits, including deferred compensation called a fixed benefit pension. The employees did the work; the employees paid all that was requested into the pension plans. The employees followed the rules of the law.

    EVERY study of the so-called pension problem has identified the UNDER-FUNDING BY THE STATE as the major and primary cause of the problem today (some 70% in most studies). The same studies, by parties on all sides of the issue, have also shown the benefits are below average when compared to other states’ programs and equivalent large corporations.

    YOUR representatives, the Illinois General Assembly, FAILED to properly contribute the employer (State) share into the pension system.

    The employees and unions knew the pensions were being shorted; they actually sued multiple times to have the payments made in full. The IL Supreme Court said it was within the GA’s power to fund the pensions however the GA wanted to. The IL SC also said the actual PENSIONS MUST BE PAID WHEN DUE; that is already a matter of record in the decisions.

    If you want to place blame, it is on the past and current GA MEMBERS and the VOTERS who elected them but failed to keep track of what THEIR representatives were doing, and the IL SC that deferred to the GA (separation of powers).

    The truth everyone tries to ignore is the pensions have to be paid … and if that requires additional taxes, it will happen sooner or later.

  67. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:11 pm:

    A guy @4:13

    Property taxes are to pay for schools and other local government services. State pensions are paid out of state revenue and interest earned on the money that the employees (always paid in) and the state (rarely) put into the pension investments. If you’re angry about your property taxes, take it up with your local county board or municipality. Until they find a way to make a cost shift to the local school school districts you anger is misplaced

  68. - Calhoun Native - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:24 pm:

    RNUG @ 5:07
    Well said. Thank you.

  69. - Ummmm - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:31 pm:

    Rnug, I agree with everything you said except the more taxation factor. They already DID that, remember?

    Yes , pensions have to be paid. Shall not be diminished means exactly that (just like shall not be Infringed means exactly that). What’s going to have to be admitted is that there just isn’t the money there for all the other pet projects. You know, all those handouts politicians like to dole out to cronies.

    Yes it’s true. SPENDING has to reigned in. Just as we have been saying all along.

    The funniest part of all this is that Democrats have full and total control and have for quite some time. Too bad the obamamoney bailout they all expected never came to pass.

    It’s time to just admit it. Democrats, on their platform of opposition to republicans, simply CANNOT lead. (Note: Republicans, on their dem lite platform can’t lead either).

  70. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:41 pm:

    I don’t think it’s possible to have a foolproof legal mechanism to prevent future underfunding of pensions. Any law that is passed to that effect can be changed by future lawmakers under what they consider to be greater pressures from something or over.

    Look at Elaine Nekritz, who has doggedly sought pension reform from the get go. Last day of session, there she is, pushing for continuing
    the pension holiday in Chicago. For good reasons–she didn’t want to short the schools. But there you go. She lost but there will be future attempts. Some will get through.

  71. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:42 pm:

    It depends upon what you mean by “solve.” There are still other solutions out there that haven’t been on the table recently. For example basing pensions on the average salary over a career instead of the last 4 years, pushing Quinn to reduce future raises, etc. They may not be constitutional and may not fix the entire problem but what else is new. The current proposals just take from retirees.

  72. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 5:43 pm:

    None. I believe the constitutional question makes this impossible.

  73. - cynical retiree - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 7:37 pm:

    I voted none. After 37 years working for the state as a professional, I have given up hope of them taking decisive action to solve this problem….which they and the pol’s are responsible for by the way.

  74. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 7:44 pm:

    Ummmm @ 5:31 pm:

    Haven’t been following the State budget very closely the last couple of years, have you? On average, spending on State programs has been cut by a total of about 20% over the past two years. Note that things like welfare and food stamps are federal programs, not State. It is true that this year the GA decided to spend close to $2B of “found” money on what most people would consider at least partially “pork barrel” … but the employees / unions had nothing to do with that increased “pork barrel” spending.

    Also, regardless of how it got sold to the public, the recent temporary tax increase was NOT intended to solve the pension funding problem, but it was specifically supposed to be about the (at that time) almost $10B the State was in arrears on their annual expenses. There was supposed to be a second follow-on bill to actually float a bond to pay that arrears; after promising the follow-on bill to get the votes for the temp tax increase, the GA didn’t follow through (big surprise). And the whole “reason” for the pension funding crisis today is the upcoming sunset of the temp tax increase.

    I also suggest you review the the Martire / CTBA proposal with it’s details on State spending and their suggested changes in both spending and revenue, then come back and specifically identify where you are going to find the billions of dollars that would need to be cut. Or if you don’t like the CTBA, try the COGFA reports or the Treasurer’s or Comptroller’s reports, but they aren’t quite as specific on details because CTBA got IDOR to run models of their proposals.

    The math is simple … overall revenue has to be increased. The only discussion point is how and what specific taxes. The problem is the politics; the public was lied to and voting for the needed revenue is the equivalent of political suicide for current officeholders.

  75. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 7:48 pm:

    cassandra @ 5:41 pm:

    You make a good point about CPS. I’ve mostly refrained from mentioning it, but once the State “solves” the State pension “problem”, fully expect the next thing up to the table will be a CPS pension fund “crisis” and bail-out.

  76. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 7:56 pm:

    I don’t believe they will “solve” the problem. I still think the solution to this problem is as simple as:

    1. Forgive “themselves” all of the unbonded pension debt they owe.
    2. Pay off the bonded debt.
    3. Once the bonded debt is paid off then actually fund the pension systems to the desired level so they are self supporting at some point in the future.

    Concurrent to the steps above, ensure that everyone who is owed pension benefits is paid them as they come due.

    Since they already have a tier 2 pension system for people hired in 2011 & later the defined benefit people will eventually “expire”

    The State would also need to resolve the spending/revenue problem.

  77. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 8:18 pm:

    I voted none.

    I do not see the issue being solved, just temporarily duct taped. It will be hard to fix, it will be painful to all involved.

  78. - Das Man - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 8:29 pm:


    Not even a Task Force can save us now

  79. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 8:40 pm:

    Kevin Highland @ 7:56 pm:

    Excuse me, but your #1 and #3 are the same dollars / debt. It’s that debt which is driving the increasing the payments every year.

  80. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 9:17 pm:

    @RNUG….How much of it is real debt i.e. bonded and how much of it is debt only to the pension system.

    As long as none of the members of the pension system are diminished the unbonded money is only debt because the state says it owes itself the money.

    Provide the funding to pay the active pensioners the money owed. Provide the funding to pay the “real” bonded debt. Once the bonded debt is paid then set a new target date with level payments to fund the retirement system to the desired level.

  81. - C-dog - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 9:30 pm:

    Can anyone answer my question? Will July vote require a 60-40 majority or a simple majority?

  82. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 9:32 pm:

    C-dog, I believe the required majority depends on when the law takes effect.

  83. - Capitol View - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 10:02 pm:

    Madigan needs the unions in the next election, even if one could say the unions are trapped because supporting Republicans has been shown to be disastrous for union interests in other states.

    I predict he will go with the union favored position and look statesmanlike. If the courts throw out what passes in July, he has his own plan to fall back on before January 1st implementation.

  84. - Truth teller - Wednesday, Jun 19, 13 @ 10:44 pm:

    I hope the 3% who had “a lot” of confidence are Madigan, Madigan, and Madigan.

  85. - Amuzing Myself - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 8:13 am:

    No. Track record over decades.

  86. - PES123 - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 8:16 am:

    Solve? Seriously?? They can’t seem to solve much of anything. Its not that they can’t its more like they wont!

  87. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 8:25 am:

    There was something quaint about the Tribune editorial: admonishing lawmakers check their ego at the door, then demanding “reformers” be appointed to the committee and come up with a plan that matches Madigan’s pension reduction.

    Last time I checked, no one in the GA is for the status quo-they are all reformers.

  88. - A guy... - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 8:58 am:

    –A guy @4:13

    Property taxes are to pay for schools and other local government services. State pensions are paid out of state revenue and interest earned on the money that the employees (always paid in) and the state (rarely) put into the pension investments. If you’re angry about your property taxes, take it up with your local county board or municipality. Until they find a way to make a cost shift to the local school school districts you anger is misplaced–
    Roadie, methinks you need to see my tax bill which renders your explanation wrong. It breaks out pension costs and my contribution (?) to the teachers union is higher than my assessment for education. That being said, while I hate the notion of it, I agree that the shift to local districts needs to take place to exercise some discipline with local school boards. They’re writing checks for the state to cash with little or no accountability. It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money. Like I said, I don’t love Madigan’s plan because it creates pain for everyone, but it’s the only one that pulls all the levers. They either fix it with shared sacrifice, sufficient enough to be sustainable, or it goes bust. Math is math brother.

  89. - Soccertease - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 9:23 am:

    I voted ‘a little’ because that’s the purpose of the conference committee-to be the scapegoat instead of Madigan, Cullerton or Quinn.

  90. - cod - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    The currently proposed plans to take money away from retired teachers are NOT solutions. They are unconstitutional, unfair, and just plain immoral.

    It is heartening that there are a substantial number of elected officials, the so-called “obstructionists”, that have the sense and integrity to vote against these outrageous bills.

  91. - Ummmm - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    Rnug, I watched the ILGA sessions, day after day, as they took “next years” monies to pay “last years” bills. You can live in a dream world if democrat math where they spent “20 percent less” than before. You can continue to be part if the problem. If you choose.

    Tax revenues and tax rates (or even kinds of taxes) are two very different things. What Illinois needs is more TAXPAYERS. The progressive agenda if only taxing the “rich” (with many hidden taxes on the poor) is half the problem. The other half is spending money on things willy nilly. Monies we obviously do not have. Notice please there is no such thing as state money or federal money - it’s All taxpayer money! We’ve been conned into generational theft. And that’s aside from outright theft - can you say ROAD FUND?

    In general, the fix is solid. Government has to stop doing all that it was never intended to do in the first place and get back to doing those things it was intended. Folks have to learn that thatcher was right - Socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money to spend.

    The money has indeed run out.

  92. - And the horse the rode in on - Thursday, Jun 20, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    - Ummmm - @ 11:40 am: –
    “The money has indeed run out”

    I don’t think so.


    What part about contractual obligations don’t you understand?

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