Pritzker’s budget cuts state payments to retired teacher pension health care benefits. It’s unconstitutional.


JB Pritzker gave his budget address on Wednesday.

There is much in it that was good.

What he didn’t say in his speech is that he plans to shift – cut – state support for pension benefits in the form of cuts to payments to the health insurance provided to retired teachers.

It might be needless to say that in describing the budget address, neither the Illinois Federation of Teachers or the Illinois Education Association mention the cuts to teacher pensions.

But this is from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association:

Today, Governor Pritzker delivered his budget address for fiscal year 2021. The Governor’s Budget Book outlines a reduction in the contribution for retired teacher health insurance (TRIP/TRAIL) of $51,244,324. At the same time fully funding health insurance for retired Chicago educators.The funding model of TRIP/TRAIL is a functional and emulatable model that should be used when structuring other retiree healthcare programs in the State. The model works because the program relies on payments from retirees, active teachers, local school districts and the State of Illinois. Those payments increase modestly year after year as the overall number of retired teachers and the cost of health care increases. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association can not support diverting funding away from the TRIP/TRAIL program to pay for other programs, like the Community College Retiree or the Chicago Retired Teachers Healthcare programs.

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A budget reduction in payments to retired teacher health insurance is another violation of the Illinois constitution’s pension protection clause which says that public pensions cannot be reduced or impaired.

The courts have ruled that the protected pension benefit includes health insurance.

In their Kanerva decision the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the Pension Protection Clause protects not only direct pension payments but also health insurance subsidies.

In addition to contacting the Governor, I have also contacted my state representative, Will Guzzardi, to share my opposition to any cuts to teacher pension payments.

I’m waiting for their response.

7 thoughts on “Pritzker’s budget cuts state payments to retired teacher pension health care benefits. It’s unconstitutional.

  1. Mr. Klonsky, thank you so much for watching out for retired and current teachers. I have read your blog for several years and recommended you to other teachers. It is stressful to follow the news on pensions and the disinformation which dominates the discourse to create such negative public opinion. I find your blog reassuring as you follow and interpret the behind closed doors dealings of the Illinois legislature. Oh, and I like your drawings too, please keep sharing them with us!

  2. Well, they took retiree health care from city employees in the municipal and laborers. Emanuel bragged about how this benefit was taken away. I hope teachers can keep theirs. So much for cannot diminish and impair.

  3. Wasn’t just health insurance they took from us dental and eye care were taken when I retired so I don’t buy into the can’t be diminshed retired city workers are living proof that statement is BS

  4. I know you might want to beat me up on this, Fred, but isn’t it teachers only pay 2% toward their pensions…..and I know this was agreed on a while back for some concession. But they also are getting subsidized health care which other city employees no longer get.

    1. No, Jack. I’m not beating you up. But your question is loaded with false assumptions and misinformation. “Teachers” don’t pay 2% of their contribution. CPS teachers, as a result of bargaining, exchanged a salary increase for the board picking up 7% of their 9% pension contribution. It no longer applies to new hires. Different school districts around the state have different agreements about this as a result of bargaining. But it was all part of a contractual agreement. For example, in my district teachers have always paid their 9.4% (now 9%) pension contribution. As for the subsidy. It is paid for from a number of sources. Active teachers and the school district pay into the subsidy as has the state. This is also true for some, but not all, city employees. In the case of Rahm trying to short the subsidy, it is in the courts. Past ISC rulings have generally viewed retiree health benefits as part of our pension benefits that cannot be taken away. I think it is a slippery slope when it is argued, “Some workers no longer get a benefit, so why should you?” I say, “I get won this benefit and everyone deserves it.”

  5. Gotcha. Thanks for your reply. Also want to say….yes, it is in the courts for some kind of settlement for others but this has been going on for quite a while to no avail. The latest that has been bandied about is 25 dollar a month subsidy from city or pensions……a mere bag of shells..The judge in the case, Neil Cohen seems to be siding more and more with the city. On top of that his wife was at some time I believe a chief of staff or some higher up for Daley. As far as my thinking he should recuse himself.

    1. You and I absolutely agree about the city health subsidy for city workers. Even if it gets to the ISC, years will have gone by.

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