Wednesday, October 21, the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association held their Annual Board of Directors meeting via Zoom.
In passing Zoom stock was as of this morning up 676% for the year and at $140 billion is worth more than Exxon Mobile at $137 billion. The minutes for the meeting are below.
Some takeaways from the meeting:
The membership is up to 39,200.This is the highest it as ever been.
Donations to the Foundation as of the start of October are within $2,000 of the record annual collected amount and there are three more months to go.
The IRTA office is open. If you visit your temperature is taken when you enter and all recommended safety precautions are followed. The IRTA staff has grown with Courtney Hayes doing governmental affairs and Erica Pinkey our new comptroller. Charlie Chrisman is retiring at the end of the year, but for at least the next year he will continue to work on contract.
The IRTA asked for and received $120,000 in loan for COVID Relief and expect the loan to be forgiven.
The majority of the members of the board filled out evaluations of our Director, Jim Bachman, and his marks were uniformly excellent.
The legislative committee made a recommendation to the Board of Directors that a position of neutrality be taken on the Graduated Income Tax Amendment.Norb Wolter, chair of the committee, explained that this position was arrived at because we do not pay any income tax on our pensions, so we should be neutral, the committee was divided on the merits of the amendment, the people of Illinois do not trust politicians, and taking a stand for or against will cost us members. Actually, the last point came out in the discussion that followed and I think that may have been the real motivation. Wendy Wiegers, our Area Rep, John Anderson, Regional Director of Region II (McHenry and Lake County), Reinhard Taylor of Information Services, and myself, Region III Director, spoke against the motion and in favor of the amendment.It was clear that we were in the minority. While I presented arguments against neutrality, I also knew it was a waste of time. I said while it was certainly true that we retired teachers did not pay state income taxes on our pension, that state income taxes paid our pensions, that prior to Covid-19 the Fair Tax Amendment was expected to increase state revenue by over 3 billion dollars, and there was an additional $200 million of new money for the state pensions if the amendment passes. We should favor a change that will increase the revenue of the state and make it easier for them to fund our pensions. All of the arguments that we have heard before against the amendment were heard. Polling has shown Cook County and the collar counties favor the amendment. Almost all of the other counties are likely to vote against the FTA. A study of the income taxes collected in Illinois show that on average that 99% of the people paying taxes in the downstate counties would benefit from the change. What is actually funny is that if the amendment fails, the General Assembly will almost certainly raise the Illinois flat tax by several percent.And it is certain that the “No voters” will scream, “We told you the politicians cannot be trusted!”The vote was 23 in favor of not taking a stand, and 4 in opposition.The IEA and the IFT have come out in favor of the Fair Tax Amendment.
At the end of the meeting the Board once again voted to endorse Larry Pfeiffer for reelection to the TRS Board as an annuitant trustee. And you all should have received the following;
The IRTA will be sending a link to our members Monday, November 2nd to sign the IRTA endorsed TRS Annuitant candidate, Larry Pfeiffer’s petition.
BOB LYONS REGIONAL II DIRECTOR
Illinois Retired Teachers Association
Board of Directors
Minutes of Meeting
October 21, 2020
Meeting via Zoom
President John Flaherty called the October 21, 2020 meeting of the IRTA Board of Directors to order at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Members Present: John Flaherty, President; Bill Funkhouser, Vice President; Don Ostrom , Treasurer; Doris Heaton, Secretary; Roger Hampton, Past President; Jo Anne Nelson, Wendy Wiegers, Jan Bryant, Donna Sargent, Jim Barr, and John Harland, Area Representatives; Linda Nott, John Anderson, Bob Lyons, Marjorie Sucansky, Linda Patterson, Ray Kaufman, Gail Wright, Sharon Urban, Phil Smith, LaVonne Chaney, Richard Feezel, Fred Bloss, Diane Kunkel, and David Savage, Regional Directors; Pat Hampton, Norb Wolter, Michael Schmidt, and Reinhard Taylor, Committee Chairs.
Members Absent: Navana Ahrends, Tom Bertucci, George Stone and Nadine York, Regional Directors
Also Present: Jim Bachman, Executive Director; Charlie Chrisman, Membership Recruitment Specialist; Erica Pinkley, Comptroller; Nathan Mihelich, Director of Membership/Marketing; and Andrew Bodewes, Contract Lobbyist.
Motion by Jim Barr to approve the minutes of October 13, 2019 passed.
President’s Report: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been changes in the IRTA activities for the future. In 2021 the Arizona Meetings will be zoom meetings which will be open to all nationwide. The possibility of using Zoom for the area conferences in 2021 is being studied due to lack of space for social distancing in most locations. The 2021 Convention Committee will be making alternative plans in the event that the pandemic is still occurring.
Foundation Chair Report: John Flaherty reported that $318,259 has been raised in total donations to the Foundation through September 2020. The first checks have gone to the scholarship winners with the balance to be distributed after the conclusion of the semester. The Excellence in Education Grants for active teachers are being judged and will be awarded in December. The finances of the Foundation are healthy and the work is continuing during the pandemic.
IRTAPAC Board Chair Report: John Flaherty, IRTAPAC Board Chair reported that 5,567 annuitants presently have $1 monthly deduction from TRS Annuity for PAC. To date in 2020, $120,000 has been paid to endorsed candidates mainly for Tier 1 races with $94,000 remaining in the IRTAPAC fund.
Vice-President’s Report: Bill Funkhouser reported that he has not attended unit meetings but has been a part of all committee meetings. In addition he has delivered several checks to endorsed candidates.
Motion by Bill Funkhouser to enter closed session at 9:44 a.m. passed.
Meeting resumed at 9:53 a.m.
Executive Director’s Report: Jim Bachman thanked everyone for their support of him and the office staff during this pandemic era. The staff returned to work in the office on June 1.
Two employees have been hired during the past year – Erica Pinkley, Comptroller, and Courtney Hayes, Legislative Grassroots/Affairs Coordinator.
Charlie Chrisman is retiring at the end of the year and will work as a contract employee for 2021.
Treasurer’s Report: Don Ostrom presented the treasurer’s report for the IRTA Life Fund with Total Assets and Total Liabilities & Equity of $1,334,407.30.
The IRTA Balance Sheet shows a Total Assets and Total Liabilities & Equity of $1,984,998.15.
Nathan Mihelich submitted a request for and received a $3000 grant from AARP to facilitate reaching out to members during the pandemic. This was done through website videos and a teleconference on June 24.
Motion by John Harland to accept the financial reports as presented passed.
Don Ostrom presented the proposed budget for 2021. Motion by Bill Funkhouser to accept the budget as amended passed unanimously on roll call vote.
Legislative Committee: Norb Wolter, Chair, reviewed the legislative outlook. With health concerns and
lowered revenue, the main focus in the state is the proposed Graduated Income Tax Amendment which will be on the ballot in November.
John Harland made a motion that the IRTA Board of Directors adopt a position of neutrality on the proposed Graduated Income Tax Amendment as recommended by the Legislative Committee. The proposed motion has previously been approved by the Executive Committee. The motion passed 23 – 4 on roll call vote.
Yes: Barr, Bloss, Bryant, Chaney, Feezel, Funkhouser, P. Hampton, R. Hampton, Harland, Heaton, Kaufman, Kunkel, Nelson, Nott, Ostrom, Patterson, Sargent, Savage, Schmidt, Smith, Sucansky, Wolter, and Wright.
No: Anderson, Lyons, Taylor, and Wiegers.
Member Benefits Committee: Pat Hampton stated that a new endorsed benefit presented by AMBA, Fixed Index Annuity through Americus, had been approved by the Executive Committee. Liberty Mutual is our agent for Property and Casualty Insurance and is an endorsed benefit.
Members are reminded to look at the AMBA Passport Program for discounts on hotels or travel locations.
A discussion followed on information regarding the health insurance supplement for Medicare eligible annuitants and the confusing information regarding renewal of the plan. It was recommended that IRTA inform members that if they wish to stay on their present plan for United Medicare Advantage Insurance they should take no action.
Membership Committee: As of 10/20/20 there are 39,213 IRTA members. The committee recommends a drive to increase the number of Associate Members and recommends that spouses of members become active members on the death of their spouse.
Mike Schmidt reported that the committee is working on establishing a Unit of Excellence Program where units might qualify by adhering to a set of criteria in areas such as Administration, Membership, Leadership, etc. Once these criteria and a scoring system are developed, it will go to the Executive Committee for approval in November and then distributed to the units.
Information Services Committee: Reinhard Taylor has developed a new website for use by units and he will develop a logo for any unit using the new IRTA logo. This website is located at irta-infoservices.weebly.com.
Other Business: Larry Pfeiffer’s term of office as a retired annuitant on the TRS Board of Trustees will expire in 2021. Motion by Bob Lyons to endorse Larry Pfeiffer for TRS trustee passed unanimously. The IRTA will assist in obtaining the 500 signatures needed for the petition
Motion by Don Ostrom to adjourn at 11:46passed.
Doris Heaton, Secretary