Just the threat of a pension cost shift is an immediate threat to every teacher in the state.
There are a number of things that may happen when the Governor calls the General Assembly into session on August 17th that impact teachers and working people in Illinois.
- The House will be asked to pass HB1447. The Senate already has. HB1447 would force a class of state workers, not teachers, to choose between health care subsidy and a COLA.
- Both houses will be asked to consider a shift of the state’s pension obligation to local school districts.
- Both houses may be asked to consider a bill that would apply HB1447 to teachers. Or both the cost shift and the forced health care – COLA choice will be in one bill.
- We can hope that the House will reject HB1447 and that both houses will reject the pension cost shift and the forced choices.
To be clear: All these represent tremendous threats to teachers and to all working people in the state. I’ve addressed, as have others, how the cut to senior’s pensions is bad economic policy. Attention needs to be paid to restructuring the debt and changing tax policy, as most other states have done.
But in the immediate sense, the cost shift is the most threatening to active teachers.
Without even passing the bill, the simple threat of a bill is being used by school boards who are involved in contract negotiations to stonewall teachers on salary and benefit costs.
Of course, if a bill with a pension cost shift is passed, no teacher in Illinois will ever see a pay raise again. And local taxpayers will be creamed.
But just having the bill hanging out there is bad enough.