The Sun-Times is without shame.
This morning they ran an editorial that calls on the legislators to “fix the error” in Senate Bill 1.
Back in November SB1 was the bill they demanded.
The state’s top legislative leaders reached a deal Wednesday to cut pension costs for teachers, state and university workers and legislators. State lawmakers should ratify that agreement when they return to Springfield on Tuesday. The deal is the closest the state has come to passing a desperately needed pension reform package in years. Lawmakers owe it to taxpayers not to blow this.
The legislature did pass it. And they blew it.
There is no fix.
The first question I have is how do you even try to change a law that is already being challenged in the courts while the courts are still considering it?
The error that the Sun-Times is talking about involves members of the State University Retirement System who were hired before 2005 and have what is called a Money Purchase Option.
10,000 members of SURS are aligned with the Money Purchase Option. If you are one of the 10,000 and wait to retire after June 29th, the interest rate will likely fall and those retirees who haven’t given notice to retire could lose plenty.
This is the source of the University’s brain drain fear.
Why do I say that this was no mistake?
Today I spoke with Linda Brookheart of the State University Annuitants Association. When SB1 was being voted on Brookheart asked legislators if they had thought about the impact Senate Bill 1 would have on current employees who would consider their retirement options if SB1 were passed and signed by the Governor.
They knew. Or didn’t care.
Why do I say that this can’t be fixed?
Many of the 10,000 who can retire have already given notice. Even if the legislature can or will change the effective date in the bill, those who have given notice will go anyway.
The point isn’t where the decimal point is in the Money Purchase Option. Or whether the retirement date is 2013 or 2014.
The point is that the legislature and the Governor should never have messed with the pension systems at all.
Our pensions are a legal and moral obligation of the state.
All of us – every union, every association – said that there was no benefit problem. It was a revenue problem.
And now it is too late.
For the university systems it is too late. Students who are in mid-program will lose professors they needed and counted on. They may even lose the programs they were enrolled in.
The damage is done.
Even if the courts issue an injunction. Even if the courts rule SB1 unconstitutional.
The damage is done.