House vote on Senate Bill 512 at 9AM Thursday morning. Call now.

Early Wednesday word was circulating that Tom Cross and Mike Madigan didn’t have the votes to move the pension bill out of committee. All committee meetings listed on the House schedule had been cancelled through Friday.

Then by late afternoon everything had changed.

According to Greg Hinz at Crains, a House vote is now scheduled for 9AM Thursday morning.

Calls are urgently requested.

Greg Hinz:

Under the proposal as filed by House Republican Leader Tom Cross, workers covered by five state pension plans and various municipal retirement systems would keep all benefits they have earned to date but pay far more for benefits accrued in the future. Or they could pay less but get less than than they do today.

A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has talked regularly to Mr. Cross about the bill, said he believes the bill has the speaker’s support.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress on pensions in the past couple of years,” the spokesman said. “We are going farther in that direction.”

Specifically, workers who were on the payroll before this year would have one of three choices.

1) Stay in the current system, but contribute 3.75% to 8% more as a share of salary, depending on the system. Judges would pay 23% more as a share of salary. The employer contribution generally would remain at 6% of salary. Employee figures would be adjusted after three years.

2) Accept the same sort of reduced benefits and higher retirement ages that were mandated for new workers hired after Jan. 1. In exchange, workers would contribute about what they do now, generally 6% or 7% of pay.

3) Enter a self-managed pension plan that would work much like a 401(k). Each side would contribute 6% of pay.

Overall, the proposal resembles one first advanced by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, a big business group. In addition to the state workers and teachers statewide, it could cover non-sworn Chicago employees — not police or firefighters — plus most workers for Cook County, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District.

Unions are strongly opposed.

“Teachers, police and other public employees work hard and play by the rules, but now the politicians want to change those rules and tell public employees they lost the game,” said a statement from AFSCME. “It’s the politicians who for years recklessly neglected to make contributions required by law.”

Proponents of the measure say that, rightly or not, the state no longer can afford to incur pension debt at the current rate, given the more than $60 billion in unfunded liability in the state’s employee pension funds.

One big question that is unanswered so far is how much transition costs would be for switching to a new system. That has been a big concern of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But the city is included in the bill, so I presume that matter has been resolved.

With the support of Mr. Madigan and Mr. Cross, the bill seems likely to pass the House. But while Senate President John Cullerton reportedly has agreed to allow the bill to come for a vote in his chamber, he says reducing pensions for those already on the payroll would violate the Illinois Constitution.

The measure, SB 512, is scheduled to come up for a vote in a House committee at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

7 Replies to “House vote on Senate Bill 512 at 9AM Thursday morning. Call now.”

  1. What the Republicans will soon realize is that they are awakening a usually silent majority of people who don’t often get out to be politically active or even vote. The “average Joe” will strike back when pushed too far. Let’s see how many republicans are left in Wisconsin in the near future.
    Republicans represent the businessmen whose ranks trashed our economy and now they are angry and out to take whatever they can from those of us who make this state (and country) work. America should no longer tolerate Republican ideology. It is becoming more and more clear that the big businesses they represent are the enemies of the American people as well as the environment.

  2. My Republican Representative will vote against it, as will my Democratic Senator. I called the office of both this morning and both told me they were voting against it.

    Which only goes to show, some from both parties can be honorable.

    It doesn’t matter which party, they lose my vote and my support if they support this bill.

  3. This is to express an opinion of strong opposition to any legislation that degrades Constitutionally protected contractual agreements regarding the pension status of state teachers.

    Their pension status is based on important long-standing promises made and accepted in good faith, and consummated by legally binding contracts that are protected by the Illinois State Constitution.

    It is neither fair nor legal to say these contracts are now invalid, because the state doesn’t want to pay their agreed amount, or because they would rather spend the money on something else.

    When the state quit funding their agreed amount to the pension system, this was a flagrant and fraudulent breech-of-contract on the state’s part. The state clearly had enough money to pay their agreed amount; they just decided to spend this money on something else instead.

    It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to legislate that teachers are now financially responsible for both the state’s misdirected spending priorities and their flagrant and fraudulent breech-of-contract.

    What’s needed now is a restoration of fairness, legality, and financial soundness to the state’s teacher pension fund, not attempts to legislate away long-standing promises and Constitutionally protected contractual agreements.

  4. I understand why the wealthy republicans are dedicated to keeping their taxes low, but it never ceases to amaze me how working and middle class republicans are so willing to point the finger at the public sector workers and those receiving public services as the main sources of our government’s budget crisis.
    The rich are the minority. It is up to the majority (everyone else) to see that the wealthy give back something to the American people whose hard work got them where they (the rich) are.

  5. As a retired Chicago Police Officer I am already taking a big hit on my pension. When Illinois passed the earlier legislation regarding new hires they also changed the way the cost of living was figured into the pensions of retired Officers born after Jan 1st, 1955. I have been retired for over 3 years and have not received any cost of living adjustments and will not get any until I reach age 60 at which time I’ll get a whopping 1.5 percent. This is a shameful way to treat public employees who gave so much to make the streets of Illinios safe. In the mean time my insurance payments increase at around 10 to 15 percent each year. I am now taking home around 350 dollars less each month than when I originally retired. The people that they want to change the benefits on contributed their share to the pension fund according to what was expected but the cities and state did not and now they want to skip paying back what they owe and just change the pensions so they don’t have to. Anyone who votes for this should be voted out of office at the next election.

  6. State of Illinois employees – you’ve had it too good for too long. It’s time to face reality – like the rest of us ! Shame on your greed .

    You look pathetic complaining about money,money money all the time when you’ve been getting unholy amounts of raises and pension handouts from your Democrat masters for years on end.

    It’s time your Union goons stop walking the streets and get back to work . After all, aren’t all Union employees “hard-working” and surely must have a job to do in some department or the other ?

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