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*** LIVE*** Pension reform conference committee coverage

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* Click here to watch live video of the pension reform conference committee meeting.

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* Meanwhile, at first blush, I dismissed this press release yesterday as mere political posturing from a likely gubernatorial candidate…

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) today called on Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to publicly testify in front of the recently appointed Conference Committee established to deal with the state’s pension crisis.

“Gov. Quinn said that if he could fix the pension crisis by Executive Order he would. Therefore, Gov. Quinn should appear before the Conference Committee and tell its members what his Executive Order would look like and how his solution to the state’s nearly $100 billion pension crisis would be drafted,” said Dillard. “As Governor, Quinn has not offered his own plan but reacted to the General Assembly. Now it’s time for the Governor to lead and show us his plan.”

Dillard said that as chief legal counsel of Illinois with a staff of attorneys, Attorney General Lisa Madigan should also testify in front of the Conference Committee on the constitutionality of the competing pension proposals being pushed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

“Importantly, as the state’s chief legal officer Attorney General Madigan should appear before conferees and give legal guidance as to whether Speaker Madigan’s plan or Speaker Cullerton’s plan are able to pass constitutional muster. The Attorney General must have an opinion as to which of the two plans are more constitutional, and she should share this with the Committee,” said Dillard.

But, the more I thought about it, the more this made sense, even considering the partisan source.

As noted below, most legislative committee hearings are far more show than go, and, by the looks of things, this pension reform conference committee will be no different.

So, why not shake things up and heed Dillard’s advice? It couldn’t hurt.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill White - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    === So, why not shake things up and heed Dillard’s advice? It couldn’t hurt. ===

    I agree and the same should be expected of every candidate for Governor.

    Let’s see what Bill Daley’s hypothetical Executive Order to fix the pension crisis would look like. And Bruce Rauner’s.

    And Kirk Dillard’s.

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    The more I think about this, the more I like it.

    If the Governor has stated this, then he should lay any and all ideas out on the table.

    And it makes sense for the Attorney General to be present and provide feedback and guidance on what may or may not be legal within the confines of law and precedent.

    A previous press release indicated that she has already been providing such input to some of the legislative leaders but has not shared that input with the public or the legislature at large.

    Whether they appear publicly or provide written testimony, let’s do this and do it right with all options on the table.

  3. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    If they could get the Governor and Attorney General at the table at the same time, they could sell tickets and make a modest dent in the pension debt.

    I’d pay to see that.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:29 am:

    What I like about the Dillard suggestion is that both the Governor of the State, and the Chief Legal Officer would allow the public to understand, as their own offices see things, the avenues that can be taken by a governor, any governor, and what this governor would want to do with an Executive Order, and could it pass Constitutional Muster, (not the Order, but the path the Order would take being Constitutional).

    Further, the Attorney General’s Office could give a clearer indication as to which of the 2 Bills would pass Constitutional muster, and by what criteria is the AG’s Office basing these opinions on, and if the AG’s Office had an alternative idea that, LEGALLY, would make sense to assist the General Assembly in, not only this process, but in getting beyond the process ensuring the legal footing for the General Assembly to proceed, knowing any solution will face a legal challenge.

    Now …

    Throw in all the partisan politics, and the landscape, and the personalities… make for good theatre, but because everyone has skin in the game, be it reputation, opinion, whatever, it makes all … ALL… of them partners in trying to get this through, and legal, and responsible.

    Food for thought.

    It would be great to see in its practice. I won’t hold my breath.

    Appreciate the thought, Sen. Dillard, no snark.

  5. - Endangered Moderate Species - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    In every arena, except for politics, this advice makes perfect sense.

    Politically speaking, it does not make perfect sense, because the career risk far outweighs the reward for both the Guv and the AG.

    All of us know that a real solution is going to come with much pain and that is why this can has been kicked down the road for twenty plus years.

  6. - Makandadawg - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    I hope this is the last time I ever hear Ty Fahner talk about pension reform. He has no idea of the impact his savings of 24 to 30 billion will have on the pension holders.

  7. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Tylenol Ty’s 15 minutes of fame are at about 14:58. Notice how he changed the subject when someone wanted to compare and contrast his pension to the average State pension. He and R. Eden Martin need to go back to the money bin and find a new spokesperson.

  8. - Midstate Indy - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    Senator Dillard ’s suggestion is a rarity in this pension discussion in that it actually makes sense. As much as this may be viewed as having a political edge for a candidate other than PQ or LM, they are the ones hold the greatest political upside potential. Demonstration of leadership during a stall of the GA could make either or both the Gov/AG appear to be the compromise broker.

    Dillard brings forward a solid suggestion with this concept. Although there may certainly be a political edge to be had, it wasn’t claimed exclusively by Kirk Dillard in this suggestion. I think Dillard did a genuinely good job checking the ego at the door on this one.

  9. - JustMe_JMO - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    “So, why not shake things up and heed Dillard’s advice?”
    It should be done but it will not happen because it is logical and reasonable.

    Besides Quinn has NO idea what he would order and the Attorney General would cite conflict of interests.

  10. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    Listening at

  11. - SAP - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    Bill at 11:18. Presumably we have seen Sen. Dillard’s plan, based on his vote for the Speaker’s amendment to SB1 and against the President’s original legislation.

  12. - Happy Returns - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    This is kind of like when GWB said it would be easier if he were a dictator; Quinn saying he would solve the Gordian knot by cutting it has no relevance if one of the rules of the actual exercise is ‘untangle the knot; cutting the rope is not allowed.’

  13. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    So far, everyone testify is ducking answering the hard questions being specifically put to them.

  14. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:26 pm:

    Notice the reference to the CPS pension problkems I’ve alluded to in the past … that will be the next “crisis” that has to be bailed out.

  15. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    Hey Capt Fax
    NoTaxBill said he actually talked with PQ and invited him to the clambake. All Kurt K Kume up With a Press Release

  16. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    Moody’s released a report either today or yesterday discussing the almost $1 trillion shortfall in all US state government pension plans. Of course, special attention was given to Illinois as the worst of the worst. I haven’t seen the actual Moody’s piece, but reports indicate a much more critical rating process in the future.
    Like it or not, the rating agencies appear to be gunning for state pension plans, and Illinois is may be the prime target. The rating agencies dropped the ball big time on mortgage backed debt, and they appear poised to regain credibility on state bond ratings, with pension health being a prime consideration.
    So, maybe at least pretending that state government is serious on pensions would be a good idea. Having the Governor and AG weigh in at the conference committee may at least give the apppearance of a serious attempt and delay the next downgrade.

  17. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:44 pm:

    Whitley, saying that the General Assembly would have to raise taxes by $100 billion is so disingenuous. You’ve lost all credibility with me.

  18. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    @RNUG - and yet, on the last day of session, 39 legislators voted in favor of extending a CPS pension payment “holiday” allowing Mayor Emanuel to skip CPS pension payments during the next 2 years.

    Talk about insanity. That was flat out crazy.

  19. - Old and In The Way - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    Whitley is one of the authors of the ramp that got us into this mess! File his suggestion in the “circular file” where they belong. I am tired of listening to this so called “expert”. What have you done lately Dougie?

  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 12:52 pm:

    The very bright Saluki is just calling a Dawg a Dawg…now he can ask NoTaxBill to explain what of state government would be operational had his budget “plan” been the law of the land

  21. - Bill White - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    SAP at 12:18 pm

    Asking all candidates to present a concise statement of where they stand - today - would be a good thing if it could be accomplished.

    Once we start with the reading of tea leaves and cobbling together interpretations of voting records we lose much clarity.

  22. - Ready To Get Out - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    Ty Fahner says “no interest group should stop the pension committee from progressing!”

    Has he lost it? What does he think the CCC that he represents is? I’ve heard it all now!

    Maybe he means no special interest group other than his?

  23. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    Formerly Known As… @ 12:46 pm:

    Agree, total insanity.

    Sometimes I think the whole purpose of this exercise in attempted pension theft is so the “saved” funds can then later be used to “save” the CPS pensions.

  24. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:32 pm:

    Someone better tell the committee the unions don’t legally represent the retirees … and you can be absolutely sure the retirees will sue over either 1 or 2404.

  25. - Keyrock - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    RNUG - sue and win, you mean, if Illinois has an honest judiciary.

  26. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    Finally getting down to identifying the crux of the problem the GA faces.

    As Matt Paparocki tweeted:

    “Natl. AFSCME Rep. testifying before C.C. says reducing unfunded liability at all means taking away benefits that have already been earned.”

  27. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    Sen. Holmes, you don’t need to be a Constitutional lawyer. The IL Supreme Court cases from 1970 to date are crystal clear on already earned benefits … you can’t touch them.

  28. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    Given that the CC has no constitutional lawyers on it, here’s a thought. Since you’ve got “experts” testifying before the committee did anyone think to maybe get a constitutional expert or two to testify, and not only testify about the constitutionality of the pension “reform” bills, but about the abbrogation of the legislator’s oath of office whereby they state that they will uphold the state constitution.

  29. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    PublicServant @ 1:51 pm:

    Better yet, how about some of the still living retired IL SC Justices?

  30. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    @RNUG - Those “Takers” would offer biased opinions, unlike Ty, R Eden and others trying to protect their yachts.

  31. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    PublicServant @ 1:57 pm:

    I know one of those retired SC Justices personally … and I’m pretty sure he would be fair.

  32. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    I’d also like to see Ralph Martire called to testify. He wouldn’t let Murphy, or any of the other pension takers get away with their propaganda.

  33. - JC - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    Martire will never be called. He has real solutions that don’t kill the pension contributors/pensioners and no one wants to hear those solutions. I saw him speak TWICE in the company of Biss and Nekritz and Biss and Nekritz chit chatted to each other the entire time Ralph spoke. They listened to nothing. Why would an appearance here be different. Obviously solutions that don’t punish are not welcome.

  34. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    The tax increase that would be needed to avoid cuts for current employees and retirees should be framed in the perspective of the years over which the debt accured. It should be something like, “the $2 billion per year of increased revenue for 30 years is enough to generate the $100 million per year that should have been collected for the past 40 years but was not.” That puts it in perspective that $4B over 40 years is equal to $60B (or whatever the numbers are) and that the sins of the past are being borne by the present.

  35. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    Nekritz is harping on the 100% funding level, which makes sense when applied to private sector businesses that can declare bankruptcy, but explain to me why that would be necessary for a state pension where the state exists in perpetuity and cannot declare bankruptcy? Why wouldn’t 75% or 80% be sufficient?

  36. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    ===Obviously solutions that don’t punish are not welcome.===

    Martire’s solution drives up state costs dramatically. That would definitely punish some folks.

  37. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:17 pm:

    Rich, SB1 definitely punishes some folks much more than Martire’s tax increase. And, since the state’s argument for SB1 is police powers, why not use that same argument to implement a progressive tax that reduces the the income tax burden from its current level for 94% of Illinois taxpayers?

  38. - cover - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:18 pm:

    Is there any web site where the public can find the reports from COGFA and the Auditor General’s State Actuary?

  39. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:22 pm:


    If the current proposed solutions are found unconstitutional (and I believe any kind of diminishment will be), then taxes will have to go up and everyone will be hurt … and in that case, Martire’s solution might be the best one.

  40. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    The one part of Rep. Lang’s proposal that is questionable is additional contributions without some additional benefit … and I don’t consider any funding guarentee a new benefit because the State is already responsible to pay what is owed.

  41. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    ==Why wouldn’t 75% or 80% be sufficient?==
    Because lowering the funding or the ramp would hurt Illinos bond ratings, according to what’s been said by people in the Governor’s office.

  42. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    Sounds like the committee IS going to let Ralph Martire testify on July 3rd.

  43. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    @Anonymous- I refer you to Rich’s point on Illinois Bond rating and indebtedness as compared to Ontario Canada. So much for the bond ratings huh?

  44. - facts are stubborn things - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    Pensions earned can not be diminished! The union is at least trying to negotiate the best bill possible so that we have that as a baseline and then I am sure some retirees will sue.

  45. - low level - Friday, Jun 28, 13 @ 7:05 am:

    The testimony showmanship, etc I agree won’t get it done, but if anything, this is showing why it is so difficult to get a workable consensus on the issue - especially among members of the majority parties.

    The Chicago stupid Tribune, I hope, especially, was paying attention so perhaps their editorials on the issue would become less simplistic; i.e. just change your vote, stop being such a wuss on the issue, etc. That is basically what their attitude is - just like 6th graders.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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