Just like our teacher pension, retirees paid what we owed for health care and the state didn’t. But Governor Rauner got what he wanted.

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Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin has been silent on teacher health care theft.

These are the facts as I think I know them:

Retired Illinois teachers who are enrolled in the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) pay about 40% of the cost into what is called the Teacher Health Insurance System (THIS) managed by a state agency called Central Management Services (CMS).

Smaller amounts are paid into TRIP by the feds, current teachers and local school systems.

Unlike some state employees who receive the health insurance benefit at no cost (good for them, by the way), Illinois teachers do not receive the benefit for free. For the state employees the health insurance benefit was bargained as part of their pension and is protected by the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.

There is a state subsidy to retired teachers, however. Illinois is supposed to match the teacher contribution with a subsidy. The 40% is also considered part of the teacher pension benefit.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that health care benefits were protected by the pension protection clause in a case called Kanerva.

Even so, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has tried to end the state subsidy to TRIP.

While the Governor hasn’t been able to end the subsidy through the front door, he has been successful in ending the subsidy through the back door using Democrat Comptroller Susan Mendoza.

Mendoza says she doesn’t have the money to pay the subsidy, so she hasn’t. She says she is only paying the bills she is obligated to pay.

I’m not sure what that means.

She hasn’t paid the bill since January, 2017.

But until March off 2018 she didn’t tell anyone that she wasn’t paying the $10 million a month into THIS.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The state now owes THIS $140 million.

By the way, if your are a member of the Illinois Education Association or IEA Retired or the Illinois Federation of Teachers, this may be the first time you are hearing about this. Both state unions have been unremarkably silent.

This isn’t surprising since their record of defending the rights of retired teachers is not all that great. In fact, it is terrible.

Will Mendoza begin paying the subsidy again? Nobody is saying when or if.

Will the $140 million be paid back? Again, the record isn’t good. The full state pension debt and liability is now over $130 billion and nobody has a plan for paying that back.

Governor Rauner wanted to end the subsidy.

He has.



19 thoughts on “Just like our teacher pension, retirees paid what we owed for health care and the state didn’t. But Governor Rauner got what he wanted.

  1. I am almost glad that I didn’t get the chance to build up so much time in the system that TRIP would be my only option. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had realized that almost all of my SS benefits would be taken when I went back to teaching late in the game. I would be on the street if I had to rely on my pension and not far from it with full SS. Forget healthcare. How do these people sleep at night?

  2. You are right about Kanerva the ppc protects retirement benefits . The ILCS overruled a lower courts 6 to 1 in 2014. You may want to celebrate that day its coming up in June.The only problem I see for the retired teachers is figuring out who the contract or contracts are with.
    Also it’s just and I don’t mean to minimize how good a deal it is premium free. We are in retirement process and have 30 years and will get premium free
    We will stay in our existing plan . Rauner was trying to force retirees in cheaper plans but that is in court.Also dependant premiums are still paid at the rate paid while working. Prices of dependant and co pays and so on can go up at the same rates as worker’s until Medicare then we have to pay that same premium as you do but in my wife’s case it’s a way in the future. There is a Medicare plus set if plans we can get premium free for both of us.Also some my wife starred at a young age and had student work she paid very little into social security so the windfall would only affect the survivor benefit. That one is failing because it’s my benefit that I paid into . I get a survivor benefit on hers. It is stupid.

  3. Notfernuthin’, but the Illinois Education Association grassroots (if there remains any grass in Illinois public schools) need to form a caucus to create a “shadow IEA”, to say what IEA should say on all these issues. If you need a “front figure”, I’d recommend calling outgoing Massachusetts Teachers Association prez Barbara Madeloni. She’s free after this year’s RA, and her term completes.
    How can NEA claim to be the voice of teachers when the goddam silence is both deafening. Silence speaks volumes…just not teachers editions.

    1. Speaking of Massachusetts, I noticed some retired public employee representatives are coordinating with retired organizations of other states and meeting with lawmakers to request action on WEP/GPO. I am wondering if anyone is representing Illinois retired teachers and other public employees in this effort. Repeal, not “reform” is needed.

  4. Some one needs to get the facts correct here.

    The Comptroller does not take orders from the governor – Is is her choice was to what she “pays”. Recall the recent override budget and the additional revenue form the tax increase.

    Another issue here is where are the unions contributions going? Is that pat of of monthly $10 million unfunded ? If so there are more issues – possibly bigger ones.

    1. The unions do not contribute to TRIP. Individual retirees who are members of the Teacher Retirement System pay into and have the option to join TRIP.

  5. The unions, the press, and even the opposing parties politically elected comptroller, Mendoza, have all remained silent about this no-pay game. Cannon649 is correct. This is not a democracy. It’s a “thug like” robbery.
    Just like the corrupt Big Pharma higher ups are playing a game with this opioid crisis……or the NRA being in bed with political leaders, the middle class and poor are getting raped and pillaged by thugs disguised as corporate CEO’s, and American politicians. Wars are started without Congressional approval because the aggressive actions are no longer called wars. They have been given a softer name. Nobody goes to jail ……..except the poor and middle class. And all these fools like to end their speeches with the words, “God bless America”. Give me a break!

  6. Good question.
    The union no longer represents retirees as retirees are no longer union members. Certainly retirees need a voice and will find one once health benefits are denied by providers.

    1. The IEA claims over 12,000 retirees as members of IEA Retired. While the IEA no longer represents retirees in collective bargaining, the union does have an obligation to represent retired teachers in matters related to pension benefits and legislative action.

  7. The IFT has retiree groups as well. I worked for an IFT-affiliated district for a year; the rest of the time, an IEA one. After retiring, I joined IEA-R. I also wanted to join IFT-R, but gave up after speaking to numerous people who didn’t seem to know which one/how to belong (or how to connect me to anyone who could help), as I had worked in a west suburban district but lived north. I quit IEA/NEA as per the shenanigans surrounding the 2016 Dem primary: as per usual, the rank-&-file was not asked/surveyed as to whom we would choose to endorse, the endorsement was made way too early &–the last straw–when, 2 weeks before the ILL-Annoy Dem Primary a survey was sent to us all, the results were never made public (I’ll take a wild guess, here, that HRC was not the choice of the members, as the leadership might have assumed, so as to use that HRC rank-&-file “endorsement” for PR prior to the primary.). Silence, again, & even though I’d asked for the results, not a peep. So–that was my last straw moment, & I was done.
    Retirees, please go to irtaonline.org & join the IL Retired Teachers Assn. & your local unit. The excellent information Fred posted on TRIP directly came from the IRTA–& IRTA offers retirees much more than consistent news. If you are retiring in 3 years, you can join–for FREE–through the “pipeline.” Also, if you are retiring in May or June (this year), you can have FREE membership through January. Also, benefits are endless–the same (&, perhaps, more) as you’d re-ceive from IEA & IFT–discounts, med. programs, group trips (there will be a cruise this October, I believe). Not to mention the Big One: IRTA lawyers were the first to file the lawsuit (& most aggressive) that kiboshed SB 1, having it declared unconstitutional. &–finally–this should go w/o saying (you’ve all seen the CTU & various state teacher orgs. {& even many forming their own groups, having not received support from their state EAs} spilling onto the streets,
    making their points, being shown ON THE NATIONAL NEWS {breaking the msm glass ceiling} & winning!)–THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: the more people joining the IRTA, the better for us, & we are all stronger.
    Don’t hesitate–again, go to irtaonline.org or call 1-(800)-728-4782–“defend your pension & health benefits with an IRTA membership.”
    &–looking for that perfect retirement gift?–buy your retiring friends & relatives a local unit membership–there are units throughout the state–contact IRTA today to find out which local is yours/theirs).

  8. Hi Fred, I saw something today from a friend about a  proposal to add 1% to everyone’s property tax for the next 30 yearsto pay off the pension debt.  Have you heard of any proposal like this? Tony GiesRetired Teacher

    From: Fred Klonsky To: agies@att.net Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018 8:37 AM Subject: [New post] Just like our teacher pension, retirees paid what we owed for health care and the state didn’t. But Governor Rauner got what he wanted. #yiv6715713835 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6715713835 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6715713835 a.yiv6715713835primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6715713835 a.yiv6715713835primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6715713835 a.yiv6715713835primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6715713835 a.yiv6715713835primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6715713835 WordPress.com | Fred Klonsky posted: “These are the facts as I think I know them:Retired Illinois teachers who are enrolled in the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) pay about 40% of the cost into what is called the Teacher Health Insurance System (THIS) managed by a state agency” | |

  9. Is it a bad idea to think that we should all start calling the Comptroller’s office to ask for an explanation and demand that these payments be made?

  10. I talked to Gwen Peoples at the Comptroller’s Office in Springfield. She told me that yes they are $140 million behind in payments but that some payments were made in March and April but she didn’t say how much. She also said that decisions are being made month to month as to which bills can be paid. Also, no one has complained that anyone’s health insurance has been impacted so if anyone insured through TRIP has been impacted they should be sure to call the Comptroller’s office as well as the IRTA.

    1. Thanks, Mike. As I posted, the IRTA is actively seeking information from those enrolled in TRIP as to who might be denied service from a heath care provider or asked for payment up front. If that has happened they should definitely contact IRTA.

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