JB on pensions is shameless.


For years and years we made our arguments to Daniel Biss about pensions. Our members met with him, protested in front of his office, took many bus trips to Springfield.

In all that time we never saw JB Pritzker.  We never heard him say a word about pension theft. Not a peep.

You know why?

He wasn’t against it.

In March, Greg Hinz wrote:

As J.B. Pritzker nears a decision on whether to run for governor, the Chicago businessman would have to deal with past family political contributions to a group that pushed to cut back on state worker pensions.

I don’t see any signs that the donations from Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, would poison his bid to win backing from organized labor. But with a potentially huge field of Democrats vying to take on GOP incumbent Bruce Rauner, the gifts definitely are getting some attention.

The donations—$10,000 each—came in December 2011 and went to the We Mean Business PAC, a group formed by Civic Committee President Ty Fahner to pressure state lawmakers to enact pension changes over union opposition.

The group ended up doing just that, giving large donations to several candidates opposed by labor—though one $10,000 check ironically went to House Speaker Mike Madigan, who enacted pension changes that later were tossed out by the Illinois Supreme Court.

To his credit, I suppose, Biss now admits he was wrong about pension theft.

As Biss moves up in the polls, Pritzker has decided to spend his self-funded multi-million dollar campaign war chest on ads attacking Biss.

That is smart.

Pritzker has decided to attack Biss on his record of pension theft.

That’s crazy, given Pritzker’s funding of corporate organizations attacking public pensions and throwing money at politicians like Madigan who got the constitutional pension bill passed.

Why are the unions that represent public employees backing Pritzker now?

Because they jumped on board when they were positive his self-funded campaign was unbeatable.

Yet, days before the start of early voting a third of Democrats in Illinois are undecided. I assume some of those undecided are union members.

Just as I thought it was crazy for Biss to talk about taxing pension benefits a few days ago, I think it is crazy for JB to pretend he’s a born-again pension warrior.

There are no clean hands in the governor’s race between these two when it comes to pension theft.

JB should take that shameless ad down.

15 thoughts on “JB on pensions is shameless.

  1. February 2, 2018


    Compound interest was once regarded as the worst kind of usury and was severely condemned by Roman law and the common laws of many other countries.

    Today, in 2018, Lenders have long “loved” compounding! Advocates for those who labor, have worked hard to bring compounded pension benefits to retirees.

    Fred, I applaud your efforts in protecting teacher pensions and addressing many other social issues.

    Yours in education,

    Dr. Charles W. Birch, public school teacher

  2. It’s hardball politics. Biss threw rocks at Pritzker, he got rocks thrown back at him. We already knew about Biss being one of the authors of the pension theft bill. Biss, the Chief Thief of TRS/SURS/SERS pensions, knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway. He now says he will “make the millionaires pay” more with a progressive income tax. He is making promises he can’t keep. The Illinois constitution would have to be changed to enact a progressive tax.
    The only time I would vote for Biss is if he becomes the Democratic candidate. It would be more of a vote AGAINST Rauner then for Biss, a lessor of two evils.

  3. The problem is that the party system broke down. I voted as a Democrat all my life, and I voted in every single election. Never once voted for any Republican except Judy Tropinka. As a result, the Democrats tried to reduce my pension benefits, and then I lost faith in the Democratic party. It was not just Biss, Quinn was very active. I agreed with you Fred when you said d the Republicans in Illinois went crazy, and the Democrats turned into Republicans. That is still true.
    Which of the Democratic candidates for governor is truly attractive? What about attorney general? Same thing.

  4. In comparing the two (Biss versus Pritzker) I would not put them into the same bag. We know that Biss pushed a particular bill forward and we know of his steadfast intransigence and bull-headedness on the pension bill, but we do not know exactly where and how Pritzker would have gone on pension reform. Pension reform, as such, is not a dirty word and we have had pension changes in my 26 years of service anyway (for example, we got portable, traditional and self-managed plan options, which did not exist as choices when I first entered the system). The CTBA has also recommended some change to the pension system. The critical thing is what you do and how you do it and it needs to be constitutional. So, I am not willing to second guess Pritzker on the details of what pension reform package he might have wanted back in 2011, but I do know what Biss had in mind and he was dead wrong (not to mention the fact that he has severe political myopia that caused political suicide for the Democratic Party in the elections). A lot of people are still enraged at the Democrats for what they did and I hate to think that we will still suffer the repercussions in the coming elections in Illinois.

    1. The SURS portable and self-managed plans were added as options that were strictly voluntary. They were added because a lot of highly qualified applicants realized they would have to stay in the Illinois systems for decades to get an adequate retirement. They would lose most or all of it if they left mid-career to accept a position in another state. Meanwhile other states were offering portable and/or self managed type plans that were attractive to these applicants, who would then turn down offers in Illinois to accept positions in other states. The optional plans were primarily designed to address concerns of employees and potential employees to be able to take what they earned with them if they left. The optional plans were NOT designed to cut benefits or “save the state money”, they were to cost the state the equivalent to the traditional Tier 1 pensions. They were not “reforms” as defined by politicians. They were not a diminishment of benefits.
      The politician’s use of the term “pension reform” is actually just another name for “pension cuts”. “Tier 2” is a good example, one of the most draconian cuts ever to new employees, far greater of a reduction then any other that I have heard of. An example is California, I heard they raised their benefit age for new employees from 60 to 62. Illinois tier 2 raised the age from 60 to 67, 3 and a half times the amount of the cut in California.
      I don’t trust any Illinois politician that calls for more “pension reform”, they already have one of the lowest (tier 2) pensions anywhere, it pays the retiree less then social security. Over their career, tier 2 employees will pay in more then they will ever collect in their tier 2 pension. In addition, any social security benefits they have earned from other employment will be greatly reduced.
      Pension reform = Pension cuts.

      1. I forgot to mention, employees in SURS, like TRS and some SERS employees, are NOT in the social security system. Their pensions are not in addition to social security. Their pensions are instead of social security. The state never pays a penny to social security on those employees.

  5. I am 73 years old retired from a union job with a very small pension and any idiot that wants to take more of my pension money talks wise will not get my vote I’ll vote for someone else every time now we’re already taxed enough in this state and they better not talk about touching my social security benefits tax-wise

    February 2, 2018 at 8:09 pm
    They won’t count it.

    I’m worried they will count ’em they way they desire?

    I believe it was Stalin who stated ,”I don’t care who votes,I care who counts them”…or somethin’ close?

    Trust the machine?

    Canada uses paper ballots…but hey… they aren’t becoming Great again.

    The Buddhists say”,Big rooms lead to big thoughts which, in turn, lead to Big trouble”.

    I would add…The Great Big Strong Man invariably leads to Great trouble…for the little people.

    Something about repeating History and Doom?

    Play it again?…one more time?

  7. Capitalism/Oligharcism all ways forces a choice between the lesser of two evils?

    Is any other system of self governance available?…I often wonder.

    I am forced to wonder what H.L. Mencken would have to say about The Man of The People…Donald J. Trump…Would we laugh…or cry?

    I’m positive he would laugh…in our faces!

  8. “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    ― H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

  9. I am no fan of Mencken…knowing he was an admitted racist and anti-Semitic…but I can’t help but think he got this one somewhat right?

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