The in box. Bob Lyons on the Pension Conference Committee.

Bob Lyons is an elected representative of retirees on the TRS board of trustees.

As you know, the only result of the June special legislative session was the creation by the General Assembly of a conference committee as a way out of their impasse on pension reduction. The group will be responsible for coming up with a recommendation to be ready for another special legislative session on Tuesday, July 9.  The ten members of the Conference Committee on Pensions consist of six Democrats and four Republicans, but, as widely reported, more significantly eight of them have previously voted for the Madigan’s SB1 amended that would drastically reduce the benefits of both active and retired public employees.   President of the Senate John Cullerton, appointed not only two supporters, Linda Holmes and Kwame Raoul, of his own much more moderate bill, but much to my surprise, Daniel Bliss, one of the only two Senate Democrats that had voted against the Cullerton bill.  Biss is with Representative Nekritz the team that created the proposal that became SB1.  Raoul is the Chair of the Senate’s Pension Committee and Holmes is a graduate of Hoffman Estates High School, where I taught, and both are strong supporter’s of SB 2404,  Both of the Senate Republicans, Bill Brady and Matt Murphy, it is fair to say would prefer Madigan’s bill while at the same time feeling that it does not go far enough.  Considering that a majority of the House Republicans voted No on SB1, it might have been hoped that Minority Leader Cross would have picked at least one of the representatives from that side, but instead choose Darlene Sanger and Jill Tracy, both having voted yes on SB1.  As would be expected, Speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, picked the original author of the plan that became SB1, Elaine Nekritz, and two other supporters, Art Turner and Mike Zalewski.


Thursday afternoon when Andrew Bodewes, the System’s legislative liaison, reported to the TRS board, I asked, “Given that a significant majority of the committee can be expected to favor the Madigan bill isn’t that what we can expect will be their recommendation?”    “Yes, if they just vote for their own preference,” he answered, “but remember SB1 only received 16 yes votes in the Senate at the end of the session and there is no reason to expect it would get appreciable more in July.”   The Senate Democrats hold 40 of the 59 seats and they were most unhappy with Madigan’s treatment of their leader John Cullerton.  Unlike most House Democrats, the party’s senators do not need to go to Madigan for campaign funds and workers, so they can afford to be more independent.


While I had originally speculated the Conference Committee’s inevitable work product would favor the Madigan approach, Bodewes makes a significant point that it will have to pass both chambers.   Obviously the legislators can come up with an entirely new approach, but then that will require time for the actuaries of the state pension funds to do their work to determine what the impact of the legislators’ efforts means in benefits cut.   It will be the committee’s choice if their deliberations will be in open or closed sessions and if they will take additional  testimony.  Given where the legislators reside, the one safe assumption will be that the meetings will be held in Chicago.


In a very real sense we are all the constituents of every one of these legislators.  While we might not live in their districts, they are going to be making decisions that will affect how we may live for the rest of our lives, so we have every reason to reach out to every one of them.   The messages that have the best chance of getting to them will come from those of you that can tell them that your pension is all that you have and that the cost of your health care cuts into what you have to live on.  Personal stories are best and while you can certainly rant or rave if that is your style, just understand that is when they quit reading.


The State of Illinois’ contribution to the five pension funds for this fiscal year ending on June 31 was $5.25 billion and $1.55 billion on loan payments for a total cost of $6.8 billion.  For FY 2014 starting on July 1 the State will need to pay $5.59 billion into the funds and $1.65 billion for past borrowing for a total of $7.24 billion.   Bob Lyons


 The 10 members of the Legislative Conference Committee for pensions.




      Elaine Nektitz (D) — 57th District — Buffalo Grove —;


     Darlene Senger (R) — 41st District — Naperville —;


     Jill Tracy (R) — 94th District — Quincy —;


     Arthur Turner (D) — 9th District — Chicago — phone #  773-277-4700;


     Mike Zalewski (D) — 23rd District — Riverside —




     Daniel Biss (D) — 9th District — Skokie — phone # 847-568-1250;


     William Brady (R) — 44th District — Bloomington — phone # 309-664-4440;


     Linda Holmes (D) — 42nd District — Aurora — phone # 630-801-8985;


     Matt Murphy (R) — 27th District — Palatine — phone #  847-776-1490;


     Kwame Raoul (D) — 13th District — Chicago — phone # 773-363-1996.


3 thoughts on “The in box. Bob Lyons on the Pension Conference Committee.

  1. Thank you for this information, Fred. I believe my outrage increases when I see a list of elected officials and find that many are not available via e-mail. Shame on them in 2013. There oughtta be a law requiring “business” e-mail two way communication with and for constituents ..

    Mary N. Wonderlick I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters. Solomon Short

    From: Fred Klonsky Reply-To: Fred Klonsky Date: Saturday, June 22, 2013 5:32 PM To: mary wonderlick Subject: [New post] The in box. Bob Lyons on the Pension Conference Committee.

    > > Fred Klonsky posted: ” Bob Lyons is an elected representative of retirees on > the TRS board of trustees. As you know, the only result of the June special > legislative session was the creation by the General Assembly of a conference > committee as a way out of their impasse on ” >

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