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Just the threat of a pension cost shift is an immediate threat to every teacher in the state.

August 1, 2012

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 1, 2012 7:47 pm

    I’m not sure that every teacher in Illinois has this information, but they all should. The situation at Cat is also a threat to us, as is the warehouse workers’ predicament–and every single instance in which employees are or will be shafted. The point is that there is a concerted effort by “management” in every area of employment–public or private–to, in effect, create a slave state, one which offers low wages/salary, no benefits, and no security.
    We are all warehouse workers, and it’s way past time we got over the idea that somehow “our” problem is unique. All of us are threatened by the corrupt practices of corporate and political incompetence and greed. If we don’t ALL come together soon, we will deserve the shithole that those forces want to give us. Pardon the rant. Mike Reed

  2. August 1, 2012 8:39 pm

    Fred, all I ever hear about is Rhode Island this, Rhode Island that. It sounds to me like RI went with the Biss Poverty Plus® “cash balance” pension thing. Are there other specific states that we can look at that have actually restructured a debt so we have other models to point to? Clearly our best hope is to restructure the debt and the tax code; it would be nice if it’s been done somewhere that we can hold up as a model.

    • Fred Klonsky permalink*
      August 1, 2012 8:52 pm

      As MiC points out in an earlier comment Illinois is only one of a handful of states that has a flat income tax. Since the pension debt is mostly the result of our regressive tax system, it can only be resolved as part of a change in the way the state generates revenue, as most state’s have already done.

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