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Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 7, 2013

* A pension reform vehicle bill was moved out of a House committee yesterday. Speaker Madigan says he’s preparing for a floor vote when the leaders get some new numbers

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he’s prepared to pass a “meaningful” pension reform bill, and he hopes it will happen before the end of the year.

The Chicago Democrat says legislative leaders are waiting for actuaries to crunch numbers on some proposals they’re considering. Once they have the information he hopes lawmakers can return to Springfield and approve a bill.

* The Question: How likely is it that the General Assembly will approve a pension reform bill before the end of 2013? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey tools

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - Empty Chair - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    Word is that Quinn is planning to call another special session in December.


  2. - Archimedes - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:40 pm:

    At this point, it could happen. The Chicago Park District statute was a surprise today. It seems the bill in play will not have a choice feature, so time to implement is minimal. I say it passes in time for primaries, but not so quick to get any court action before the actual November election.


  3. - Rollo Tomasi - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:42 pm:

    They need labor’s money and votes for re-election. A bigger problem may be coming right at us is Medicaid expansion. So far between 2/3rds and 3/4ths of all people able to get thru by state to Obama Care are signing up for that program. The Feds only pay for the 1st few years. Pension reform will still be in the courts.


  4. - Amuzing Myself - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:42 pm:

    Very Unlikely. See 1999 to present…


  5. - Huh? - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    The GA hasn’t done anything on pensions, so why should they start now.


  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    ===The GA hasn’t done anything on pensions===

    You must’ve missed Tier 2 and this today: https://capitolfax.com/2013/11/07/local-pension-reform-bill-advances-out-of-house/


  7. - davidh - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    Somewhat likely. I honestly don’t think the legislative leaders believe doing nothing is an option. The timing before the 2014 campaign heats up makes sense, too. Wouldn’t a delivered and signed reform bill deprive Rauner of a big issue next year?


  8. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    I would thought “unlikely” until the gay marriage bill went sailing through. It ocurred to me then that the powers that be may have decided to quickly clear the decks of the old backlog of tough-vote items, probably because they see even thornier issues on the horizon. Income tax reform, perhaps, and certainly the unpleasant fall-out from Obamacare, as noted above by Rollo.


  9. - dupage dan - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    I suppose it depends on what the numbers reveal and how that affects the language in the bill. MJM has said it’s Quinn’s job to push the bill but now he says he is prepared to pass a “meaningful” bill. Any hint as to whether or not he sees this bill as meaningful? It’s like reading tea leaves, or interpreting what the fed is really saying. I voted VU.


  10. - illinifan - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    To Rollo….the Feds pay 100% for the first few years then the federal match on Medicaid declines to 93%. This is much better than the current Medicaid federal match of on average about 57%. Center on Budget Policy and Priorities estimates that the expansion will cost states about 7%. The Medicaid expansion issue is not the real problem. The real problem lies with the Illinois structuraly deficit create by the flat income tax. If we taxed like the states that are doing well taxes would be indexed to income.


  11. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    I’m going with “Somewhat Likely.” I’m hearing rumblings that the most immediate public pension problems are at the local government level. CPD and CTA are very weak. We all know Chicago is sweating a huge donation to the CPS pension next year or so. There are over 600 public pension plans in Illinois, and I suspect some super-secret actuarial projections have been run showing there are going to be a whole lot of unhappy local taxpayers long, long before the state plans really start to unravel. Outside of Chicago. And this will splash over onto the state pols. Maybe they expect some real local problems before the next election and they don’t want to look like they did nothing before they face voters.


  12. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    I don’t think they’ll have the votes to approve a pension reform bill. Too many moving pieces, too many people with different agendas and incentives.


  13. - Chad - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    Somewhat likely, for the sole reason that Madigan is taking some ownership of of the issue.


  14. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    I said somewhat unlikely. I’m going to qualify that by saying I don’t expect a state level bill. There might be something that addresses some of the Chicago Police or Teachers pension issues.


  15. - From the 'Dale to HP - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    @Cook County Commoner, Chicago/CPS has already had that bill come due this year. It’s only slightly bigger next year.

    I don’t think the votes are there and for the next 13+ months, the state has the money to pay for it. Seems like the Park District deal may be a trial balloon and if that’s the case, everyone is going to wait and see. I guess there’s a chance this spring.

    Oh and passing a pension deal gives PQ a win. Not sure how many want to help him out.


  16. - Diogenes in DuPage - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:21 pm:

    I just can’t see anything being passed (or debated publicly in chambers) until after the 2014 primary. I still think the best chance is January 2015.


  17. - Hoping for Rational Thought - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:22 pm:

    Speaker is engaged and ready to get this done. Very likely now. I don’t think they want pensions undone come Spring when they have to discuss the continuing the temp income tax. Gov’s budget will look real bad and will stir things up.


  18. - Gesquire - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    I think it’s very likely. The public pressure is too great for them to do nothing. Plus they want to able to tell voters they did something. The mantra will be “we know we need to to more but this is a good start.” They’ll pass what they can to make it effective immediately. The changes will most likely only impact current employees.


  19. - skeptical spectacle - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:30 pm:

    Oh, I don’t know what to think….the more “meaningful” the pension reform bill the less likely the passage. We will see what actually comes up.

    I think Cook County Commoner has some good thoughts on this. I agree with his assessment of the local public pension issues. I think this could be the issue which will ultimately be the tipping point forcing some sort of combination of “meaningful” pension reform coupled with tax increases. Another big issue which could motivate major change is the TRS cost shift if that ever occurs.


  20. - cover - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    = They’ll pass what they can to make it effective immediately. =

    If that’s the goal, then passage before the end of 2013 is very unlikely. Any state pension reform bill will have difficulty getting a 3/5 vote in both chambers. But come January, only a simple majority is needed for a bill to become effective immediately - and it will still be a challenge. I voted VU.


  21. - walkinfool - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 2:59 pm:

    Very likely. The years and months of negotiation are just about over. If we’re rational, we need to establish the base and appetite for an achievable budget number.

    It doesn’t need to be effective immediately, to impact our planning and budgeting.

    Madigan’s “meaningful” language means taking a big bite out of the liability number, and has been consistent for over a year. The only question is how much he moves off of his previous position toward a less “meaningful” bill.


  22. - Norseman - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    I voted very unlikely. At a minimum, I believe they’ll wait for January when only a simple majority is required for a bill with an immediate effective date. I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing happens until after the primary.


  23. - Cassandra - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    Bruce Rauner wouldn’t get the credit for pension “reform.” Pat Quinn would. And he’d take it. A whole crop of save the state commercials await.


  24. - Rusty618 - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    Very unlikely. They would be losing a lot of votes if they pass anything before the election next November.


  25. - A guy... - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    I voted somewhat unlikely. I wish it were the opposite. Today’s vote in the Senate on the Park District offers some indication, but this was for a Chicago entity. No one with prisons or college campuses in their districts had to fret much about this. It’s gaining momentum. With SSM out of the way, this is the biggest issue out there and it’s not sharing the stage anymore. Maybe.


  26. - Hit or Miss - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:40 pm:

    I judge the chance of a vote as being very unlikely. Any bill to solve the pension problem will need to increase taxes and/or cut non-pension spending and/or cut pension benefits (either directly or indirectly). A vote for any of these solutions by any current member of the GA will lose them votes from one or more set of voters in a reelection campaign. I think that nothing will be approved before the general election next November and probably not until the ‘lame duck’ session in Jan. 2014.


  27. - Tom Joad - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    I voted very unlikely. If the bill includes the proposed “consideration” of increasing the salaries of legislators and state employees, it won’t pass.


  28. - mokenavince - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    Madigan can give his canned speeches until hell freezes over nothing is going to happen.
    Whens he’s out of there then something may happen.
    Of course if Cullerton’s is still it will never happen. I hope I’m wrong.


  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:57 pm:

    Very unlikel. I think the “meaningful bill” will be passed in January of 2015. Yes, I said 2015. This will be the lame duck session after the November 2014 election has taken place; prior to the newly elected politicians taking their seats. Why pass something now, have it litigated in the courts and still be a grey cloud over everyones’ head during the primary and general elections that are to occur in 2014?


  30. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 3:59 pm:

    sorry that was me “Anonymous @ 3:57 pm


  31. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 4:23 pm:

    And if no action is taken most state employees will get a 3% boost in their pensions. (Mine came July 1st).


  32. - Andrew Szakmary - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    I said somewhat unlikely, because if they do it before Dec. 31, 2013 then they would either have to get a 3/5 vote (very unlikely in the Senate) or delay the effective date until June 30, 2014. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I think it will be difficult to even get a simple majority in the Senate for the massive benefit cuts that Madigan considers meaningful.


  33. - Jack Handy - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    Have 5 separate bills, one for each of the State pensions. Make each bill change something different to each pension. Break up the opposition. 5 different court challenges. See what sticks.


  34. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 4:33 pm:

    Somewhat unlikely. Will wait for Jan 1 so that all it takes is a simple majority. I doubt there are enough votes to pass anything with a 2/3 vote.


  35. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 4:35 pm:

    Should have clarified that I doubt there are enough votes to pass anything dealing with the state pension systems with a 2/3 vote.


  36. - DuPage - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 5:06 pm:

    Somewhat likely, they have the retirees busy with Illinois Medicare Advantage, dependent verification, Obama care rollout, etc. They will sneak it through before any organized opposition can form. Remember how fast they did Tier 2.


  37. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 5:10 pm:

    If the bill that passed today (involving the Chicago park district ) makes it to the courts, I agree with others that it is a sacrificial lamb to see what they can get through the supremes . That makes this bill an effective tool to use or lose against the retirees rights. This seems likely to have been Madigan’s way to (in the long run, after rejection by the courts) to be able to raise the taxes once again .


  38. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 5:20 pm:

    If the numbers get resolved enough to everyone’s satisfaction, somewhat likely. Pat Quinn is AGonizing to get this done with already, to the point of stripping Lawmakers’ paychecks, subsequent lawsuits where he PHYSICALLY APPEARED repeatedly it means so much to him, appeals to Supreme Court, etc. If he truly believes/learns that they are finally ready and he can live overall with what they are sending him, he would almost unDOUBTedly then call them down for a Special Session for the vote.


  39. - low level - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 6:26 pm:

    Very likely. MJM will get it done … again.


  40. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 7:20 pm:

    DuPage @ 5:06 pm:

    There are a number of us retirees who are keeping our eyes on this ball …


  41. - Soccertease - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 9:20 pm:

    Very unlikely. Got a feeling we’re going to be hearing that pension investment earnings are much improved, lessening the pension crisis-until the 2014 election is over.


  42. - east central - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 9:57 pm:

    Passage early in 2014 seems most likely but maybe in December 2013.

    Timing considerations: If it is like Maag, then 8-9 months until a lower court rules (Maag was 6/2012-3/2013) and at least 18 months if expedited to ISC (Maag 6/2012-?).

    A lower court decision prior to the election may not hurt D’s, but an ISC decision that tosses the law prior to the election requires candidates to address keeping the income tax increase. So it seems safe to pass something now given that for the election they can pretend the income tax increase will go away.

    An ISC decision on pension changes may not come until after the tax increase expires 12/31/2014. An interesting question is whether the legislature will let the income tax increase expire and then reinstitute it after the ISC rules.


  43. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 7, 13 @ 10:24 pm:

    east central @ 9:57 pm:

    If, and that’s a big IF in my mind, the GA passes something scored between $150B and $180B in savings, the GA will claim things are good enough to let the scheduled expiration happen. Remember, not all of the 2% goes away. But the way I’m reading the tea leaves, it will all fall apart immediately after the general election and the lame duck session will pass a permanent income tax increase.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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