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.
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.