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Our pension future was the topic at a north suburban meeting.

February 26, 2013

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North suburban State Senator Dan Biss.

Several hundred teachers, mostly members of the IFT’s North Suburban Teachers Union, came to Niles North High School last night to hear IFT President Dan Montgomery, Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Senator Dan Biss and Representatives Elaine Nekritz, Laura Fine and Robyn Gabel.

If this was a war of wits between Martire and Montgomery on the one hand and Biss and Nekrtiz on the other, Biss and Nekrtiz came unarmed.

Martire came with facts and data that showed how the current pension cutting proposals, including the draconian Biss/Nekritz bill, do nothing to address the real state budget issue, which is about debt and revenue.

Biss and Nekritz mainly repeated their tired generalities and refused to respond to Martire’s basic premise: A real solution has to address the real problem. Otherwise, in a few years we will be going through all this again.

To me, the most interesting moment came when Representative Elaine Nekritz, looking smug, went to the microphone and waved a piece of paper. Neither I nor any member of the audience had a clue as to what the piece of paper was.

But Nekritz proceeded to announce that her greatest mistake as a legislator was agreeing to the pension holiday a few years back. The pension holiday was the two years when the state made no contribution to the pension systems at all.

Nekritz was not really interested in making a self-criticism however. She turned to IFT President Montgomery and waved her paper some more. She claimed that the state’s public employee unions had also agreed to the pension holiday. She clearly believed this was her gotcha moment.

But Montgomery responded calmly. It seems that what Nekritz left out was that the courts have ruled that there is no legal recourse when the legislature refuses to fund the pension systems. There was nothing the unions agreed to or could do anything about.

In what is a crazy twist of logic and law, the constitution requires that benefits be paid. It does not require that the systems be funded.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Gerald Berkowitz permalink
    February 26, 2013 9:50 am

    Nekritz’s big argument is that Martire’s solution is not “actuarially” compliant because it amortizes the debt over 45 years and not 30 years as Nekritz insisted more than once last night is a requirement from TRS.

    Since this debt was acquired by the GA not funding the pensions in order to use that money to pay for other services of the State, then the debt should be transferred to the State general fund at which point it would not fall under the actuarial assumptions of a pension fund. It is only right that the fund that used the money should also accrue the debt the transfer caused to the pension funds.

    In addition Ralph Martrie said the 45 year payment is to get to 98% funding. If the goal was modified to 80% funding, then the 30 year amortization schedule would work he believes. I don’t think Nekritz was listening as she was waving her papers in the air at that moment.

  2. Diane permalink
    February 26, 2013 1:36 pm

    My favorite Nekritz moment was when she sounded like a disgruntled third grader an said
    “Well, at least we’re not as bad off as Rhode Island!”. She continued to whine that it could be worse or that it was not their fault. High pitched voice and all. She’s obviously in over her head! No facts, just excuses.

    • Fred Klonsky permalink*
      February 26, 2013 5:05 pm

      She also failed to say that Rhode Island has no comparable constitutional pension clause.

  3. Sharon Hayhurst permalink
    February 26, 2013 4:23 pm

    Elaine Nekritz repeats this “gotcha”, complete with waving paper and smug expression every chance she gets…in every forum on pension “reform”

  4. mklonsky permalink
    February 26, 2013 10:27 pm

    ha! a war of wits. gabel came unarmed.

    Michael Klonsky, Ph.D

    DePaul University Small Schools Workshop Ph. 312-420-1335 Email: smallschoolsworkshop@yahoo.com

    >________________________________ > From: Fred Klonsky >To: michaelklonsky@yahoo.com >Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 8:56 AM >Subject: [New post] Our pension future was the topic at a north suburban meeting. > > > WordPress.com >Fred Klonsky posted: ” North suburban State Senator Dan Biss. Several hundred teachers, mostly members of the IFT’s North Suburban Teachers Union, came to Niles North High School last night to hear IFT President Dan Montgomery, Ralph Martire of the Center for T” >

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