-John Dillon. John blogs at Pension Vocabulary.
My blogger friend and I went to Benedictine College the other night to listen to three members of the General Assembly and the currently appointed State Comptroller explain their perspectives on Illinois’ current budget morass.
We had to fill out questions beforehand on small cards and submit them for approval before the program really began.
Governor Rauner appointed Leslie Munger to her current position as State Comptroller after the death of Judy Baar Topinka. Munger will be running against Democratic Representative Susanna Mendoza (1st District) in November to retain the office.
Senator Michael Connelly and Representatives Ronald Sandack and Grant Wehrli were also present; Sandack sitting in for Jeanne Ives who was unable to attend.
The opening and ending of the program was telling for anyone who happened to be a retired state worker there.
It began with a question of how to reform pensions and ended with a general question of “If you ruled the State?” – a variation on Toney Bennett’s song but without the “Every man would say the world was his friend/ There’d be happiness that no man could end”.
Nope. Not in their world.
Pension reform is a must – especially for those who might be coming aboard to work in the public sector. “We’ll need opt outs, buy outs, 401k’s, choices between, options moving forward, reductions in costs, curtailments according to actuarial adjustments…”, they all affirmed.
Good answer. But, serious question:
If the income of new workers is gone from the necessary investments in TRS and the state continues to make insufficient payments into the public pensions, might the pension system become broken? And if, according to the Illinois Supreme Court, the state still owes that money, won’t the people of Illinois be obliged to pay for it by sale of state owned property or higher taxes?
Yet, they all confessed one way or another the Illinois Supreme Court had made lucidly clear that current Tier One and Tier Two public sector workers and teachers are guaranteed what they were promised once the began their employment.
Representative Sandack described how the conversations in the Capitol Building had undergone a unreserved shift from an ever present concern for pension-reform-now to a subdued notion no longer discussed.
In the end of the evening’s program as petty “philosophical” dictators, not one of them thought to attack the strength of the current Pension Protection Clause. Lots of other bullet points, but not the Pensions.
During the evening, Comptroller Munger warned the audience that the current payment for pensions and pension debt would balloon next year to eat up even more of the state revenue – if there actually was a budget and any state revenue.
Serious question: My friend had sent a note asking about re-amortizing the debt like a sensible household in order to eventually reduce annual debt payments rather than pay out more and more. It must have been lost on the way to the podium.
Read the entire post here.