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Stating the obvious

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Fred Giertz doesn’t buy into claims by some that a “dysfunctional” General Assembly passed a pension reform bill a couple years back

Is not the approval of a poorly targeted bill that likely was unconstitutional and that entailed a substantial political cost a prima facie case for dysfunctionality?

There is another explanation why intelligent and calculating legislators would engage in this futile effort. Politicians have notoriously short-time horizons. The failed pension-reform process bought the governor and General Assembly time. It allowed them to kick the can down the road with a degree of political cover. From the passage of the bill in December 2013 to the time it was ruled unconstitutional in May 2015, politicians could assert they were dealing with pension problems. This was useful in navigating the 2014 elections.

In addition, the failed pension bill provided politicians with a response to criticism from the Chicago Tribune and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago who advocated reforms similar to those in Senate Bill 1. Politicians can argue they tried to implement the proposed reforms and failed through no fault of their own.

Well, yeah. I figured everybody already knew that.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:52 pm:

    Yeah, I read this earlier this morning and I thought the same thing Rich. The pension reform ideas that Gov Rauner has proposed certainly appear to be unconstitutional too. Is the present administration dysfunctional or are they just kicking the pension reform can down the road too?


  2. - AnonymousOne - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    Everything from start to finish has been a political game regarding public pensions, starting with stealing funds from the employees owed that money in the first place. Never mind those stolen from are actual people.


  3. - PublicServant - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    I wouldn’t call them dysfunctional back then, although they definitely are now. They function very well if procrastination and CYA were the goal, which, since those aren’t or shouldn’t be the goal, makes them mis-functional, and that is very different, and quite troubling.


  4. - AnonymousOne - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    Kinda like juvenile delinquents who can’t pass a class in school but can work out detailed blueprints to the bank vault. Smart where you need to be.


  5. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:04 pm:

    Wow, that’s taking the long way around the barn to get to the “duh” moment.


  6. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:09 pm:

    ==I figured everybody already knew that.==

    Many who follow this site and politics may have accepted that, but imho the general public would be very unhappy if they realized the GA passed a sham bill on something so important and then spent this much time and $ selling the lie in public and court.


  7. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    This just in: Candidate Bruce Rauner knew his term-limits referendum language was fatally flawed from the beginning. It was a device to collect voter data without giving up the issue for use in future elections.

    This just in: Michael Madigan pushed an advisory minimum-wage question on the 2014 ballot in a weak attempt to help Pat Quinn.

    Madigan also will not call a minimum wage hike bill in the House for fear that it could pass and Gov. Rauner might sign it, therefore removing tne issue for future elections.


  8. - anon - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:11 pm:

    Of course PS, cause a shill for the dems would think the way you do!


  9. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    ==sham bill==

    Subconscious h/t to Goldberg lol.

    Looks like such a thing exists after all.


  10. - Name/Nickname/Anon - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:27 pm:

    It may have been politically timed, but the issue was never going away until they passed a bill on the ILSC ruled on it. It had to be done.


  11. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==- The Dude Abides - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:52 pm:==

    Both. Rauner loves the Scott Walker method of governance. The current Walker trick is kick the can, as evidenced by his plan to throw billions in borrowing with an inadequate revenue stream to cover it on the backs of taxpayers rather than come up with an adequate, modern revenue stream for transportation projects. I don’t think I need to explain why Baron von carhartt’s administration is dysfunctional. If any explaination is needed, just scroll through a days worth of posts here.


  12. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:34 pm:

    Who the heck is Fred Giertz & where did he come from?


  13. - Enviro - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:43 pm:

    Even though Senate Bill 1 would break the contract the state had made with state employees who were required to make contributions to pension funds, many people in Illinois including the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago were in favor of this bill. The constitutional pension reform bill (tier 2) had already been passed. But this did not satisfy the people who wanted to reduce the defined benefit pensions of current and retired state employees. Only a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court could convince them that this contract could not be broken. What is their next plan…bankruptcy?


  14. - PublicServant - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    anon, as usual, you’re attempts to label me, are off the mark. Remember, it was the dems that forced through SB1. I’m nobody’s shill. But, if it makes you feel better, feel free to believe that. It does, however, seem like the type of thing a drive-by right wing shill would say. Just sayin…


  15. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:53 pm:

    Has anyone told him that the north won the war?


  16. - Andy S. - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:00 pm:

    Fred Giertz is a former UIUC econ professor who was recently elected by SURS retirees to serve as their elected representative on the Board of Trustees. As to bankruptcy, I am not so sure it will have much support among groups like the Civic Committee or the Tribune that represent almost exclusively the interests of the top 1/10 of 1%. The reason, of course, is that in bankruptcy the bonds issued by Illinois and local government entities would endure at least as large a haircut as pensions, and the bonds (mostly tax exempt) are held almost exclusively by individuals in the highest income tax brackets. Now that the courts have ruled that you cannot declare a selective bankruptcy wth respect to pensions but not other government obligations, I predict that the high income types will come around to supporting tax increases, especially those (like sales taxes) that fall disproportionally on other groups.


  17. - illinoised - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:31 pm:

    Of course we knew that. Duh.


  18. - JS Mill - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:36 pm:

    First, SB 1 is/was not a reform it was a reduction. Not the same thing.

    A “reform” would be something like passing a bill requiring the State pay their bills or face criminal prosecution. That is never going to happen, but it would be an actual reform.

    Nothing they do to the annual cost of the pension is going to matter a heck of a lot until the debt is paid. The current ramp requires a scheduled $6 Billion for FY16.


  19. - Bored Chairman - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:49 pm:

    I’ve worked with enough elected officials to know that they love having a court say “no” or “yes” to get them off the hook. When they know the law isn’t on their side, politicians hide behind a judge’s robe to make the tough decision for them.


  20. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    Yes, this idea that there was a need for a court opinion is part of the scam. The prior precedents were crystal clear and the most recent opinion broke no new ground but merely reiterated what the court had said many times before.


  21. - A Jack - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    I do remember the Speaker said not to worry to labor when SB1 was being debated. I hung on to that statement, though most members of the pension system were plenty worried.


  22. - Joe M - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:00 pm:

    The “Throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach. But the IL Supreme Court said NONE of it stuck.


  23. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:03 pm:

    ++- Andy S. - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:00 pm:++
    It looks like SURS should have found a better rep..


  24. - Fedralist - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:09 pm:

    “Well, yeah. I figured everybody already knew that.”

    They did!!!

    It was stated over and over and over again on this site.

    Obviously more of these political pundits should read this site more.


  25. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 5:32 pm:

    The ball is in LMad’s court.
    The last financial meltdown occurred seven years ago, and in recent decades they’ve tended to come along every eight or nine years. In the event of another one, the police powers argument might suddenly seem more compelling.


  26. - Davos seaworth - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 6:23 pm:

    It’s funny that Fred makes these comments as it was the IGPA that recommended certain parts of SB 1 (money purchase interest rate changes for one). Fred was head of that think tank at the time of publication, he never should have allowed that report to see the light of day if he feels this way.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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