I have questions for Senator Daniel Biss.

Senator Daniel Biss with IEA Retired’s Jack Tucker.

Skokie Senator Daniel Biss is running for the Democratic nomination for Illinois Governor. He wants to run against Bruce Rauner.

Like just about all the candidates, Senator Biss is running as a progressive alternative to the Trumpian current occupant of the Springfield mansion.

Senator Biss has two big problems.

He doesn’t have nearly the cash of the front runners, Chris Kennedy and JB Pritzker.

And he was the most outspoken legislator in promoting the pension reform bill that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional.

State Representative Elaine Nekritz, who recently announced her retirement, was the pension theft leader on the House side of the Capitol. Someone wrote to tell me that Elaine was on TV this weekend saying the pension problem would be solved by attrition. I didn’t hear her say that on TV this weekend and couldn’t find it on Google. But that’s been her view over the years, so I don’t doubt the report.


Meaning we retirees will be dead soon enough and if we can move everybody that is new to a defined contribution plan and shift the cost to local school districts, the pension problem will be solved.

Elaine can say stuff like that. She’s leaving the General Assembly.

Daniel Biss is running for governor.

“I see dead people,” is not a good campaign slogan for the governor’s race.

And besides, Bruce Rauner has trademarked it.

Moving new public employees to a defined contribution system is clearly the plan, as is moving pension costs to underfunded local school districts.

That is what was done quite secretly in the budget bills that were passed with legislative votes overriding Governor Rauner’s veto.

I supported the override, but was pissed to discover the secret pension changes.

Here is my exchange with Senator Biss:

June 26th.  Daniel,

Does this article say that you favor moving pension costs to the local school district and does that represent your current view?



June 27th. Fred,

It does not. I don’t think the article says I favor any particular solution it all — I read it (and I recall the interview) as just me whining about what’s wrong with the current situation.

The challenge is that the complete school aid solution involves many steps, including progressive tax reform, way more state revenue in the school aid formula, a better school aid formula, less property tax reliance, and then pension parity between Chicago and TRS. Pension parity could be achieved in any number of ways, but if it were to be done by moving pension costs to the local school district then the “way more state revenue in the school aid formula” part of all this needs to be adequate to stop that transition from harming the non-Chicago schools.

On the other hand, if we were to just move pension costs to the local school district without doing the rest of this, that would certainly harm the non-Chicago schools.



July 11. Daniel,

While we wait to find a date for you to join us on our radio show/podcast I would like to ask you what your views are regarding the changes to the Teacher Retirement System, the creation of a Tier III, that was part of the budget passed over the Governor’s veto.

– Fred


July 12. Fred,

The creation of the Tier III plan is a bad idea that I oppose. Its voluntary nature made it fairly easy for me to decide to support the package notwithstanding that, but I was frustrated to see this proposal in the final package.



July 12. Daniel,

Thanks for your brief response.

I think that Tier III – along with the change to the estimated return on TRS investments – are terrible ideas which are not mitigated by the voluntary component of Tier III. I look forward to talking about this when we schedule a date for you on our radio show/podcast.



July 12. Fred,

Thanks — likewise looking forward to it. So just to make sure I understand, you think the assumed rate of return on TRS investments should be higher than it is now?



July 12. Daniel,

The change by the legislature reduces the amount the state pays into the system. It will increase the liability. Where does the so-called $1.5 billion in savings come from? Shifting costs to the local school districts and reducing the amount paid into the system by rolling back the change to the assumed rate of return on investments. The action of the legislature increases the assumed rate. Just to make sure I understand, you voted to return to the old assumed rate which is higher.



July 12. Fred,

Oh I see, sorry. You’re talking about the so-called “smoothing”? Yeah I hate that.


To be clear, Senator Biss assured me in an earlier email that he would never vote for an unconstitutional pension bill again.

But for many retirees, his role in passing the unconstitutional previous attempt at pension theft has left a bitter taste that won’t go away.

And without notifying voters, Biss and others voted for these pension changes as part of the budget bill and override of the Rauner veto.

His response to me that the Tier III defined contribution plan is voluntary is problematic in that Tier II is so bad that it literally forces employees to switch to a defined contribution plan. It is like putting a gun to their heads and saying they have a right to choose to live or die.

Senator Biss is scheduled for our radio show, Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers, on Friday August 4th at 11AM on Lumpen Radio, 105.5fm.

I’m looking forward to the conversation.

This week’s Hitting Left podcast.

2 Replies to “I have questions for Senator Daniel Biss.”

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