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*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner says he’ll sign a pension bill, but will it get to him?

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017

* I told subscribers about this earlier today…


* The linked press release

Senators Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) and Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) today announced they were filing a compromise statewide pension reform plan, which is modeled after a proposal agreed to on a bipartisan basis last summer. With Democrats refusing to meet Republican requests for property tax relief, jobs legislation and spending reductions, some have called on the legislature to try to move smaller agreements on other important state issues. Pension reform would be the ideal starting place, combining the Senate President’s own language for statewide pension reform along with the exact same language Democrats supported last year that provides Chicago Public Schools with a one-year pickup of its pension normal costs.

“The so-called ‘Grand Bargain’ is in a holding pattern while we wait for Democrats to agree to freeze property taxes, make Illinois more competitive and cut spending to balance the budget,” said Sen. Connelly. “But that shouldn’t prevent us from moving forward on areas where we agree, including pension reform. Republicans want pension reform that helps the whole state save money while the mayor of Chicago is asking for pension assistance to solve his own pension crisis. We have bills already filed and supported by Senate Democrats that we can move right now to solve both issues. We should honor the agreement reached last summer, and hopefully moving a pension deal now will spark momentum toward a larger budget deal as well.”

The Connelly-Tracy pension package consists of two bills: One which includes the consideration model portions of SB16, and one which includes the Tier 3 and budgetary items of SB16 along with the text of SB 2822 from the previous General Assembly (that bill provided $215 million for Chicago Public Schools pensions in Fiscal Year 2017).

As part of the stopgap passed last June, Governor Rauner and the four legislative leaders agreed the state would pay for one year of CPS’s teacher pensions as long as lawmakers passed statewide pension reform. President Cullerton broke that agreement in November, which led to Governor Rauner vetoing the bill that would have contributed $215 million from the state to CPS to pay its pensions. Now, however, President Cullerton has filed a statewide pension bill (SB 16) which could easily be paired with the previously vetoed legislation.

* The Tribune editorialized in favor of this concept the other day

Is it possible to combine pension reform with CPS funding and get a bill on Rauner’s desk? Voting on this duo separate from, or instead of, the overall compromise is a risk. Take out the pension bill from the package of 12 bills and that broader effort could stumble even more.

But if the grand compromise is faltering, can something good come of it?

Don’t give up, senators. Keep talking. The condition of the state continues to worsen at an alarming rate. There is no time for grudges.

* Doug Finke

“We can’t sit around and wait for a compilation of 15 or 16 bills to magically appear,” Connelly said. “This was agreed to last summer. In large measure, we are taking what was agreed to back then and bringing it forward.” […]

Tracy said the bills should not be taken as an indication that the “grand bargain” is dead.

Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said the components of Tracy and Connelly’s bills are contained in the pension reform legislation that’s part of the grand bargain. He said the focus is still on passing the bargain, not separating out the component issues.

“Right now we’ve left the proposals together because we remain interested in a comprehensive plan to solve the state’s problems,” he said.

Seems like Connelly and Tracy don’t totally agree about the grand bargain’s chances.

Either way, what do you think of separating this from the grand bargain and running it as a stand-alone?

*** UPDATE ***  Press release…

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis today called on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to support legislation being filed by Senators Michael Connelly and Jil Tracy, which would enact statewide pension reform while providing CPS with $215 million for its pension payment.

“At a time when cost-effective, logical solutions are scarce, it is imperative that our state’s leaders support any measures that can fill budget gaps and move the state forward in funding our schools,” Secretary Purvis said. “The Connelly-Tracy pension package offers a solution to achieving comprehensive statewide pension reform, and provides $215 million in funding for CPS. CEO Claypool, Mayor Emanuel and education leaders across the state should join together to support this bill as a way to provide statewide pension reform and support the children and teachers of Chicago.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

41 Comments
  1. - The Captain - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:20 am:

    The pension bill already failed as part of the GRAND BARGAIN. It’s likely to get even fewer votes now that it’s not part of a bargain where people hold their nose and vote for things they don’t want to in order to get other things they do want.

    Republicans keep proving over and over, at both the state and national level, that they have no idea how to govern.


  2. - Rocky Rosi - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:22 am:

    No bill will reach him. He had his “chance” to make a deal now its delay anything until 2018 election.


  3. - Saluki - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    good idea


  4. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    So they try to get pensions done as part of a bargain for CPS funding, but the Gov gets a little emotional and scuttles that one, then they try to get it done in the Grand Bargain and QUE SORPRESA, “someone” whips against *that* vote, so now, they’ll offer it on its own? Sure, what the hell, guys, go ahead and beat your head against that wall.


  5. - RNUG - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:33 am:

    Go ahead and seperate it out. That way it can get to the IL SC quicker and be ruled mostly unconstitutional.

    The only part I see surviving is changes for new hires, and that will actually cost the State more money since they won’t be able to skip making any match contribution.


  6. - Tough Guy - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:33 am:

    The Captain is right. Some senators were willing to vote for this for the greater good of reaching a deal. Cherry picking only items the governor supports and ignoring the ones he opposes just won’t fly at this juncture. Again, his idea of compromise is getting what he wants.


  7. - il prof - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    I don’t see why Democrats would hand him a win on pension reform and allow him to avoid more cps shaming. It’s not good strategy.
    Plus if the Supreme Court stops state employee pay Rauner will be begging for a clean budget bill.


  8. - Jocko - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    Consideration? Kind of like when the bandleader “considered” letting Johnny Fontaine out of his personal services contract.

    Someone needs to tell Connelly & Tracy that re-amortizing the debt would save the state money.


  9. - Liberty - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    Makin headlines is all


  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    Hopefully when this gets ruled unconstitutional, lawmakers will stop wasting more time trying.


  11. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    ===Go ahead and seperate it out. That way it can get to the IL SC quicker and be ruled mostly unconstitutional.===

    My thoughts exactly. Why are we wasting time with this? Oh right. Gotta distract people from a horrific job of governin’.


  12. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    =Pension reform would be the ideal starting place…=

    If they pass this it’s game over. Rauner wins. And anyone who votes for it will be Pat-Quinned in the election.


  13. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    Is he saying he regrets vetoing the CPS funding bill in December? He did say he acted… what waa his word, emotionally? Hastily?


  14. - IRLJ - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    The press release sounds like the formula ILGOP press releases that always tie Democrats to Madigan. Same shop?
    As for the separation, given the unconstitutionality of the pension cuts for present workers, maybe this is just a way for Rauner to get Chance off his back.


  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 9:55 am:

    ===anyone who votes for it will be Pat-Quinned===

    I see you learned your 2014 lesson oh so well. /s


  16. - Norseman - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    No, they should not separate it out. Rauner will keep playing them on the other issues if the Dems go along with this bill.


  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:05 am:

    2 brand new puppet mouth pieces for the Governor. Did either of them actually vote for the bill the first time? Or did the Gov role them out so he could prove he really controls the narrative and go these 2 nos to now say they’ll do whatever the Gov needs?


  18. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    I’m of two minds but I’ll say no. This pension bill isn’t going to get the state on a path of comprehensive fiscal and economic improvement. We need to start paying our bills and creating a good business climate by EXAMPLE.


  19. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    Go ahead. Pass it right on out. The roll call will be like a “Constitution Test” for the GA.


  20. - Mama - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    “Right now we’ve left the proposals together because we remain interested in a comprehensive plan to solve the state’s problems,” he said.

    For that reason, I vote to leave all of the proposals together in a grand bargain.


  21. - Mama - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    They tried piece meal bills in the pass, and found out it doesn’t work with Gov. Rauner. Gov. Rauner does not want a comprehensive plan to solve IL’s financial problems.


  22. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:16 am:

    I second RNUG. Pass it quickly so the Supreme Court can squash it.


  23. - OpenYourEyes - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    It doesn’t matter because this is all unconstitutional. This just continues to frustrate me because they are wasting time on fictional savings.

    Pension reform has already been done. It is called Tier 2, but since they won’t see the actual savings of Tier 2 for many years they attempt to come up with ways to reach back and grab those Tier 1 employees. You cannot diminish Tier 1 benefits! How many times does the SC need to say it?

    The only way to get pension savings they are seeking is to amend the constitution. I doubt that is going to happen.


  24. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:27 am:

    “what do you think of separating this from the grand bargain and running it as a stand-alone?”

    I’m sure this bill will receive the full support of every Illinois legislator who still trusts Bruce Rauner.

    – MrJM


  25. - Vcc - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    The funniest thing about this issue is this..What part of “pension benefits for retirees or current employess can not be impaired or diminished” The Illinois Supreme Court made their interpretation very clear. Even if it passes they are wasting months and months to get real pension reform. It will never clear the Supreme Court..


  26. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Go ahead make the ISC hammer another nail in the pension reform coffin…if there is any fresh wood left. They can make any changes they want for new hires, but they may want to be careful what they ask for. The fix is in and it is called Tier 2.


  27. - blue collar - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    “The only way to get pension savings they are seeking is to amend the constitution. I doubt that is going to happen.” My understanding is that even with changing the constitution, it does not affect what Tier 1 has already earned. It can only change what happens going forward.


  28. - facts are stubborn things - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    @OpenYourEyes - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    =The only way to get pension savings they are seeking is to amend the constitution. I doubt that is going to happen.=

    Not even sure that would make any difference for all those already on tier 1. I think the only good that would do is allow those not yet hired into tier 2 have their benefits changed going forward — assuming they are hired after the constitution was changed.


  29. - Mama - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    “Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis today called on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to support legislation being filed by Senators Michael Connelly and Jil Tracy, which would enact statewide pension reform while providing CPS with $215 million for its pension payment.”

    Beth Purvis,Illinois Secretary of Education, pretending she cares about Chicago PUBLIC Schools. That is fun!


  30. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    =I second RNUG. Pass it quickly so the Supreme Court can squash it.=

    Kinda like a protest vote for Trump ’cause Hillary’s gonna win anyway?


  31. - Mama - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Don’t kid yourselves. Gov. Rauner is trying to find a way to amend the pension clause in the IL Constitution and get rid of all state Tier I pensions.


  32. - Union proud - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 11:04 am:

    This is in order to cost the unions millions more in legal fees. That and Bruce is still steamed over the 4th circuit issuing its stay. If the unions won’t roll over and unilaterally disarm like he wants them to then he will hurt them however he can.


  33. - blue collar - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    “Don’t kid yourselves. Gov. Rauner is trying to find a way to amend the pension clause in the IL Constitution and get rid of all state Tier I pensions” He can certainly try and wish, but the Supremes have been pretty clear on the subject. Only the hard headed GA don’t seem to grasp the concept.


  34. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Don’t kid yourselves. Gov. Rauner is trying to find a way to amend the pension clause in the IL Constitution and get rid of all state Tier I pensions.

    Not gonna happen, and not possible with existing case law. IOWs, it’s over.


  35. - Enviro - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 11:25 am:

    Give CPS the $215 million and raise the state sales and income tax. The grand bargain is DOA.


  36. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    I think a better pension reform bill would be one that A) forced state and local governing units to fully account for the present value of future pension obligations at the time of contract and B)penalized state and local governing units that negotiated fiscally irresponsible contracts.


  37. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 12:18 pm:

    Perhaps the Superstars now realize that Rauner has been fitted for the jacket if CPS closes early this year or opens late next year.

    Or maybe the governor has gained control of his emotions and realizes his veto last December was a rash, bonehead move.


  38. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    “Or maybe the governor has gained control of his emotions and realizes his veto last December was a rash, bonehead move.”

    It surely was a bonehead move, but I would bet that he has found someone else to blame. What mistake has this man ever owned? He has made plenty, but continues to project his failures onto others.


  39. - (un)Happy - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 3:56 pm:

    The SC has already ruled - more than once - that the State can’t diminish current employees’ retirement. So why are they wasting their time with this? Brownie points with the IPI?

    Better watch the other hand, read between the lines, …pick your metaphor. Also, all of a sudden BVR is eager to sign a bill? This is just leverage and distractionary tactics. Something else is happening that they don’t want us to notice.


  40. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 15, 17 @ 5:03 pm:

    More smoke and mirrors from Springfield.

    It would be easy to vote for this if the Senators though it was unconstitutional. The Senators could say that they tried to solve the biggest problem the state had but they were overruled by the courts.

    Sorry but the consideration model has not been tested in the courts and the cowards who vote no are just protecting their own gravy train at the expense of the rest of the state who will have to pay for their mistakes.


  41. - Kankakee Homer - Thursday, Mar 16, 17 @ 4:43 am:

    I say pass the bill and send it to the courts as well. The upside
    is that CPS will not close early if this is the
    Compromise that gets it done. The kids really
    need a full year of instruction


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