When JB Pritzker submitted a budget proposal that quietyly eliminated the necessary state subsidy to retired teacher health benefits, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association immediately sent out an email blast.
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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Some background about the IRTA:
Although it has more Illinois retired teachers and educators as members than the state’s largest teacher union, the Illinois Education Association, the IRTA is dogged about watching out closely for issues that impact retired teachers. It pays particularly close attention to retiree pension issues. The IRTA doesn’t have nearly the financial resources of the IEA. Even so, it was the IRTA that refused to give an inch when Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton (now retired) and Governor Pat Quinn (now on milk cartons as missing) enacted massive pension theft legislation. It was the refusal of the IRTA to go along that forced the rest of the state’s public employee unions that were quick to compromise to join in on the law suit that eventually led to the Illinois Supreme Court to rule pension theft unconstitutional.
When retired teachers heard about JB’s proposed cuts to health care to retirees and contacted the IEA, they received this response.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal announced Wednesday reduces the required state contribution to TRIP/TRAIL by $54 million.
It is important to remember this is just a proposal and the Illinois Education Association will work to protect TRIP/TRAIL funding during the budget-making process that normally ends by May 31.
Truthfully, this measure is introduced almost every year by every sitting governor and every year the lobbying staff employed by IEA, along with your activism, work to ensure the funding to this vital health insurance program does not get cut.
You might belong to another organization for retired teachers – the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The IRTA operates a little differently than IEA. For one, as an association, it is in a constant state of fundraising. Two, it doesn’t have a lobbyist on staff. Instead, the IRTA outsources its lobbying efforts.
The IEA, on the other hand, is the state’s largest union, with 135,000 members. We serve college students studying to become educators, teachers, school support staff, college faculty and support staff, and retirees. Because of this, we are able to serve our members starting the day they set foot on their college campus and continue to serve them throughout their lives.
We are proud of the fact that we have a Government Relations Department that has six full-time registered lobbyists who look out for the best interests of our students and our members at the Illinois Statehouse, and who have their fingers on the pulse on what’s happening each and every day.
So, when IEA reaches out to you about an issue that’s happening in state government, you can bet it’s important. When we ask you to take an action, it’s because your voice needs to be heard.
Remember, we have always been successful in maintaining and protecting the funding for this plan. And, we will report additional information over the coming weeks and months.
This is a perfect time to remind all of our retired members, too, that the Governor mentioned one piece of good news in his speech Wednesday, as well. Governor Pritzker proposed making the full pension payment this year.
But, much of the proposed education funding will depend on passing the Fair Tax, which will be a priority for IEA this year. The tax will only apply to about 3 percent of Illinoisans, meaning 97 percent of the state will see a reduction, or no change, in their taxes. But, the change could pump as much as $3 billion into state coffers, meaning more money for schools and universities, a more stable state budget, paying down the backlog of bills and stabilizing the state’s pension systems. You can read more about it here.
As always, thank you for being a member!
It was signed by IEA President Kathi Griffin and IEA Retired President John Duffy.
Now, I’m with the the IEA on the full pension payment thing and the importance of passing the Fair Tax.
But why the gratuitous slap at the IRTA.
Because the IRTA doesn’t hire full-time lobbyists?
Maybe that’s why the IRTA relies on mobilizing members to talk to their legislative representatives.
And the IEA doesn’t.