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More Kennedy nuance, this time on pensions

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018

* WCIA’s Mark Maxwell

Kennedy said “we can’t afford to allow” a portion of the Biss pension bill that he said would “negatively affect” faculty at the University of Illinois. Kennedy chaired the Board of Trustees at the time, and posted a video to YouTube with a message crafted to ease concerns among tenured faculty who had grown worried they would see their pension benefits significantly downgraded.

An error in the legislation would have forced 4,000 university faculty into a difficult corner: either abruptly retire or see their monthly pension benefits slashed by up to 30 percent. As board chairman, Kennedy apologized to faculty for allowing it to reach that point, then promised to engage with the legislature and resolve the issue. The error was corrected soon after, preventing the threat of what he called a “brain drain” — a mass exodus of tenured professors whose exits would have cost the university federal grant dollars too.

At the start of that video message, Kennedy also said that “pension reform was needed.”

Does that mean Kennedy supported the Biss pension bill before he opposed it?

“No way,” the campaign responded. In the same video, Kennedy says “The bill had lots of parts, not all of which were fully vetted.”

In response to our inquiry, Kennedy’s campaign produced emails he sent to colleagues in 2014 where he analyzed the pension changes as destructive to the working poor, an affront to a safety net that people had earned during their careers, and he criticized the state legislature for historically failing to pay the pension obligation, a move he said effectively stripped public schools of state funding and resulted in higher property taxes.

* Pritzker campaign…

As a candidate for governor, Chris Kennedy is attacking Dan Biss for his unconstitutional pension theft bill, but when he was the chair of the University of Illinois’ board of trustees, Kennedy supported that same legislation.

In a 2014 clip, Kennedy said “pension reform was needed,” in context of Biss’ recently-passed bill in Springfield. Pension benefits for 467,000 state workers, including teachers and nurses, would have been cut under the unconstitutional bill that Dan Biss wrote and Chris Kennedy supported.

“Chris Kennedy was all in for a pension bill that slashed retirement for hundreds of thousands of working families,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “But now that Kennedy is running for office, he can’t pretend to be a friend to working families when it’s clear where he stood when it really mattered.”

Quite a bit over the top there, but it’s a week before election day.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - Grand Avenue - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    Those undecideds gotta go somewhere


  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    Pension reform?

    It happened. Remember? Tier 2? Supreme Court ruling on dimishment? WHere does this end? Why is it trotted out again at election time as if nothing was ever done to address at least some movement on pension debt?


  3. - truthteller - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Given the magnitude of Biss’s bill and the ill effect it would have on recruitment and retention of staff, if these cuts were of true concern to Kennedy, he would have been much more assertive than he was.
    Obviously protection of the retirement security of faculty and staff was not high on his priority list.


  4. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:03 am:

    Anonymous, do you propose only massive tax increases?


  5. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    “Anonymous, do you propose only massive tax increases?”

    Ron, you couldbohrase your question this way “Why should taxpayers have to pay back the money that was never paid in, and the money that was taken out on their behalf?


  6. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    Phrase


  7. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:20 am:

    Hottot

    Yes, and many of those taxpayers paying back money never paid in will be public employees. Just sayin


  8. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    The Supremes ruled that the pension crisis (purposefule debt) was one that the state created. They wouldn’t offer up remedies but stated that remedies do exist without diminshing benefits.

    Figure it out.


  9. - Retired SURS Employee - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    I think Kennedy is talking about the “affected annuitant” legislation (40 ILCS 139.5) and not the “pension reform” bill. The original “affected annuitant” legislation did have some flaws, although my recollection is that the U of I had some input in the original draft legislation. The University definitely had input in the corrective legislation.


  10. - SaulGoodman - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:38 am:

    This is rich, coming from JB, who funded the PAC and lobbied for the legislation.

    The hypocrisy is so incredibly frustrating.


  11. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    What about the 90% of IL taxpayers without state pensions?


  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    Yes anon. State employees pay taxes too


  13. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:58 am:

    90% of us get very little for our massive tax burden.


  14. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    Retired SURS, I’m reading that law to be a mechanism to allow folks like yourself to draw a paycheck and a pension at the same time if your work is deemed “essential”-is that right? Apologize if I got it wrong.


  15. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    ==Yes anon. State employees pay taxes too==

    Do they also buy my software licenses?


  16. - Retired SURS Employee - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    Arthur Andersen - It actually applies to university or community college personnel (I was employed by SURS). Mostly academic personnel. Actually, the legislation placed limits on what was a more lenient practice (see 40 ILCS 15-139).


  17. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    Biss was for pension theft before he was against it (now that he’s seeking office)

    Kennedy appeared to be for pension theft before seeking office as well.

    Will the real stance please stand up?


  18. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    Anonymous, as being one of those employees you speak of, you’re right.


  19. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    “What about the 90% of Illinoisans who don’t have pensions.

    Ron, that’s why organized labor hasn’t outlived its usefulness. You shouldn’t get mad at state workers for having pensions. The real problem are the Ceos who refuse to offer them.


  20. - Cocoa Dave - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    The best part of all this is Pritzker, should he be elected, will have a hard time walking this back. State employees and retirees won’t forget his newfound support of public pensions.


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    What about the 90%

    Must have chosen the wrong place to work?


  22. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:40 pm:

    City

    Maybe ?


  23. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    Good luck with that hottot. You want to see the US economy tank? Unionize all the private sector.


  24. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    That’s funny, Ron, because when you could graduate high school, and go get a factory job and make enough for a family of four, union membership was at an all time high of 36%. As union membership dropped, so did the value of wages. Now, wages are barely rising, but the level of consumer debt has shot into the Ionisphere.


  25. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:47 pm:

    Yeah, the 50s were bliss. Racial segregation, women didn’t work, things cost a lot more than they do now.

    Take econ 101 and learn a bit about trade and supply and demand.


  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    Ron. What do you mean. Get very little for


  27. - morningstar - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 1:05 pm:

    Anonymous saying “Will the real stance please stand up?” That’s funny.


  28. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 1:35 pm:

    Illinois has terrible government, roads, services etc.


  29. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 1:36 pm:

    We get very little for one of the highest tax burdens in the nation.


  30. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Ron, segregation is abhorrent. Things did cost more, but people could afford them because they actually made decent wages vs now.


  31. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 4:02 pm:

    Lol, everyone has TV’s, cell phones, cars, microwaves, washer and dryer ect


  32. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 5:57 pm:

    Remember,women hardly worked in the 50s and African Americans were basically shut out of the economy. The labor pool has expanded immensely. What happens when thesupply of something increases a lot?


  33. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 6:24 pm:

    Ron, did you skip, or ever take, macroeconomics?

    If so, answer your own question. If not, see ya.


  34. - Hottot - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 7:10 pm:

    ===Lol, everyone has TV’s, cell phones, cars, microwaves, washer and dryer ect…Remember,women hardly worked in the 50s and African Americans were basically shut out of the economy. The labor pool has expanded immensely. What happens when thesupply of something increases a lot?===

    Yes, and Americans have the largest amount of consumer debt ever in the history of our great country. The labor pool didn’t due to race, it expanded because of immigration and birthrates. That doesn’t take away the need to make things. If the workforce were unioninzed, people could afford to buy more, go out to eat more, take more vacations, and save for retirement, in doing so, further propping up the economy. When the largest group of consumers have more money to spend, guess what? They spend it, which is why increased unionization would do nothing but boost the economy.


  35. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 9:17 pm:

    If downstate and suburban teachers paid their own share of their pension, the districts could afford to pay the employer share. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?


  36. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 10:30 pm:

    Anon, not all districts pick up all or part of the teacher’s contribution. Where are they going to find the cash?


  37. - Ron - Tuesday, Mar 13, 18 @ 11:50 pm:

    Anonymous, don’t ask logical questions


  38. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 6:11 am:

    Ron, poor and working class women always worked. Children too.


  39. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 6:36 am:

    According to the Woodstock Institute 53% of private sector Illinois workers get employer funded pensions. Most are 401ks. Only 18% private sector workers get defined pensions, down from 85% in 1975.


  40. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 8:22 am:

    Um, sure they did. At what rate though and what jobs?


  41. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 8:23 am:

    Arthr A, you clearly have no clue about economics.


  42. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 8:30 am:

    ===Arthr A, you clearly have no clue about economics.===

    Go with that. It’s 1,000% wrong, but go with that.

    - AA - can stand on his credentials/background that refutes you… but you go with that.

    You’re tiring - Ron -, and that’s not a good thing.

    Can you please start adding to discussions? Thanks.


  43. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 6:09 pm:

    Poor and working class women and children made less than men. Are you trying to make the argument that because they made less they were not an important part of the economy? I think the ghosts of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory might beg to differ.


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