For voters in the City of Chicago there will be two public pension issues on the ballot on November 6th.
The first one you will see is Mike Madigan’s Constitutional Amendment. I have written about it. So have others. We will have more to say.
When I got my sample ballot, there was another pension issue down on the bottom of the first page.
“Shall the State of Illinois provide funding for the normal cost of pensions for Chicago teachers in the same manner as the State pays for the normal cost of teacher pensions in every other school district in the state which will free up local funding that can be invested in the classroom?”
Unlike the Constitutional Amendment, this is an advisory measure. It is not binding on anyone.
It is also a hoax, perpetrated by Mayor Emanuel and the City Council.
The city’s pension obligation to CPS teachers was transferred from the state several decades ago. The city has done no better job a meeting this contractual obligation than the state has. The city has had a habit of declaring numerous pension “holidays.” These are years when they paid nothing into the pension fund. The city, like the state, now owes the CPS teachers big time.
Remember that Chicago teachers pay 9% of their salary into the pension fund. The board is supposed to pay around 6%. The board mostly hasn’t paid much of anything. If they were private sector employers that didn’t meet their Social Security payments (Chicago teachers like teachers in the rest of Illinois receive no Social Security), they would be in violation of federal law.
One of the ways in which the Democrats are trying to screw us is by calling for transferring the cost of the pension obligation to local school districts. The idea of a cost shift has not been lost on the Little Democrat on the fifth floor of City Hall, who wants to transfer the city’s cost of its pension obligation to the state. The state already is responsible for paying part of the Chicago pension obligation.
It was the Mayor who came up with the idea of putting the pension issue on the ballot.
He did it without talking to anybody on the board of trustees of the city’s teacher pension fund.
This is where the scam part comes in.
Some folks in the CTU have said to me that the real reason the issue is even on the ballot has nothing to do with pensions. There is a limit to the number of advisory questions that can be on the ballot. The Mayor’s real intention was to keep the elected school board off the city-wide ballot by blocking it with the pension issue.
Democracy, The Chicago Way.
By collecting signatures door to door we have been able to get the elected school board issue on the ballot in over 300 precincts. That had to be done precinct by precinct. Obviously a city-wide ballot issue would have been easier for voters. But with a combination of duplicitous cooperation by some alderman, like 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore, and this phony pension ballot issue, the elected school board question was kept off the city-wide ballot.
Those in leadership of the CTU have told me that they are not advocating a yes or no vote on the pension issue. They see it for what it is: A diversion from the campaign for an elected school board.
As for the pension obligation? Like the $85 billion unfunded liability owed to the state’s Teacher Retirement System, the city must meet its pension obligation. Rahm can use the outcome of the vote as public relations ploy if he wishes.
But the pension debt must be paid.