This is what democracy looks like.

During the final weeks of the Illinois legislative session I sent dozens of emails and made dozens of phone calls to my state House Representative Toni Berrios.

Yesterday I received a postcard from her in which she, or most likely someone on her staff, responded by writing the word, “pension.”

This is what democracy looks like in Illinois.

7 Replies to “This is what democracy looks like.”

  1. Hi Fred,
    Not really a response to the above, but I wanted to share 2 attachments,
    1. HB5754, which attempts to put forth Mike Fortner’s plan for our pensions.
    2. Some definitions of some key phrases Fortner uses in his plan, which, if left unexplained, just leaves us hanging.

    FIRST: Mike Fortners proposed Plan – HB5754

    Earnings Cap and SMP Sponsor: Mike Fortner

    Bill Status: House Rules
    Synopsis: HB 5754 provides that after the effective date of this act, if a participant in the defined benefit plan earns more than the greater of the Tier 2 earnings cap or the rate of earnings 1 year preceding the effective date of this act, then the earnings that exceed such earnings cap shall be deposited into a self-managed plan (SMP).
    However, participants under a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in effect before the effective date of this act are exempt from this earnings cap until the CBA expires. Then upon CBA expiration, earnings are then subject to greater of the Tier 2 earnings cap or the rate of earnings 1 year preceding the expiration of the CBA.
    For participants whose earnings exceed this pay cap, the employee contribution shall be 6% on the earnings exceeding the cap. This same employee contribution rate will apply to participants that elect SMP and whose earnings exceed these limitations.
    HB 5754 also increases contributions for traditional plan participants so that such participants contribute the greater of an amount equal to ½ of the normal cost of the traditional plan or 6% (intent is that Tier 2 members will have to contribute at least 6% even if ½ of Tier 2 normal cost is less than that).
    For traditional plan participants whose earnings have exceeded the earnings cap, the employer shall (not state) shall contribute at a rate of 3% of salary.
    For members that elect SMP, the state contributes at a rate of 7.1% (down from 7.6%) of salary and the actual employer shall contribute at a rate of 3% on earnings that exceed the earnings cap. SURS shall be required to certify normal cost for all plans (traditional, SMP, and portable).———————————————————————————————–

    SECOND: Some definitions of some of those nebulous terms Fortner uses in his above gobbbledy-gook proposal:

    Retirement benefits will be capped in two ways. One: The maximum benefit a member can receive is 75 percent of his or her final average salary. Two: Under the new law, in determining a final average salary, no member’s salary will exceed a limit that is tied to the Consumer Price Index. The current limit is $106,800. Benefits will still be determined by the formula of 2.2 percent multiplied by final average salary multiplied by years of creditable service. Benefits for Tier II will be based on the member’s highest average salary earned during eight consecutive years out of the last 10 years of service.———————————

    Fred, I’m not quite sure just yet, but I think I’d rather have Governor Quinn’s choices of staying with my current pension – keep my health insurance in retirement and give up my 3% COLA.

    Your thoughts?


    1. I don’t think we should get into a debate over which violation of our constitutional pension protections are preferable. A contract is a contract. If they try to violate it, then the courts will make a decision. If the courts side with those who disregard the constitution, then we should take further action.

      1. Fred,
        I guess I am just trying to prepare myself for “Something evil this way comes”. Our union seems to want to volunteer all of our rights away. So I wonder if our union will even show up in court to fight for all teachers’ rights.
        I don’t want to debate which avenue is the least abusive of our constitutional rights but I am just left feeling that our constitution doesn’t matter much when our union remains silent. I hope what you say comes to pass and that our union does fight this in the courts. We’ll keep fighting and we’ll keep education our colleagues.

      2. No, your questions are good ones. Here is something to ponder. Who represents the 360K members in TRS? Not the IEA. Not the IFT? They only legally represent their own members. Can they bargain on behalf of all 360K members. Some in one of the two unions. Some not. Most of the 80,000 retired members are not in the IEA. Can Cinda bargain for them? Can she agree to give up benefits on my behalf as a retiree who will not necessarily be in the IEA come September? I don’t think so. Wonder what a lawyer would say?

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