My good friend and teaching colleague Jerry writes me.
Why is the IEA surveying members about pensions now?
Because part of the temporary budget deal reached between Bruce Rauner and the Democrats was a promise to go after public employee pensions again.
The thing that is different from the last time is that the Illinois Supreme Court has reaffirmed the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.
Promised retirement benefits cannot be diminished or impaired. The protection – and this is important – covers every public employee from the day they we were hired until the day we die.
True. Future employees can be forced to accept something different. But what Rauner, Cullerton and Rahm cannot do is agree to something that says from now on current employees will get less than they were promised.
It is the liability – the debt – owed to the pension systems of current employees and retirees that is the source of the current problem. The liability was incurred because of the failure of the city and the state to pay what they owed over years. In the case of the state of Illinois, it has been a failure to pay over decades.
Briefly, Democratic Senate President – with advice from Madiar – believes that current employees can be forced to choose between a reduction in pensionable salary or future pension increases.
DiVito, Fitzgerald and I believe that this is a choice between two diminishments and would be unconstitutional based on the Illinois Supreme Court’s May, 2015 ruling.
Given that, what reform can Cullerton and Rauner come up with?
What is there for the IEA to hire a polling firm to find out?
It is sad that this farce continues.