Interview with myself. Quinn’s pension proposals.

Q. Who is impacted by the Governor’s plan?

A. Quinn’s plan is aimed at all active employee who are in Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), the State Universities Retirement System (SURS), the State Employee Retirement System (SERS), and the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS).

Q. How much more would we have to pay into our pension plans?

A. TRS would go from 9.4% to 12.4% and SURS would go from 8% to 11%.

Q. What would it do to the cost of living adjustments once we retire?

A. It would reduce the Cost of Living Adjustment in retirement (COLA) for Tier 1 employees (Participants before January 1, 2011) to a COLA that is not compounding and is the lesser of 3% or ½ of the Consumer Price Index.  It could delay the COLA to either 5 years after retirement or age 67, whichever occurs earlier.

Q. Would it delay the age of retirement?

A. Until you are 67 years old.

Q. Can an individual teacher say no to the new plan?

A. Yes. But if you stay in the old plan, your TRS creditable earnings are frozen and your health benefits would likely be eliminated.

Q. That’s a choice?

A. Not a real one.

Q. This only seems to address the benefits issue.  Haven’t you been saying it is a revenue problem?

A. The Governor claims the system’s will be fully funded in 30 years.

Q. How?

A. He implies that it can be done by the savings made by cutting our benefits. And the possibility that the state’s pension obligation will be shifted to local school district’s to pay.

Q. Can they get enough legislators to vote to raise local taxes when they are running for election in newly created districts?

A. Rumor has it that they will wait until the veto session to try and do it. After the November election.

Q. Can local districts really afford to take on the state’s pension obligation?

A. Not many. They will have to make cuts to their existing budgets. Most teachers in Illinois may never see a pay raise again if the pension obligation is shifted to local districts.

Q. Are current retiree’s impacted by all this?

A. Sure.

In 2010 they created a two-tier pension system. Any teacher hired after January 2011 had to work until they were 67, pay more into the pension system and have their benefits reduced. Sound familiar?

Now they are doing the same thing to all active teachers.

Who do you think is next?

Q. What is the position of the union leadership in response to all this?

A. They are against it. They say it is unconstitutional and unfair to those who have dedicated their lives to the teaching profession.

Q. What should we do?

A. Well, I’m going to Springfield next Wednesday on a bus with 60 other active and retired teachers. 

Last year we got 100,000 people to write, send emails and make phone calls to legislators to stop SB512.

I think this proposal is worse than SB512.

So, it looks like we have to mobilize folks again.

Q. Anything else you want to say.

A. Hell, yes.