Monday, January 7, 2013

Pension Bill Must Be Stopped. CALL NOW!

O.K., teachers.  Enough 60's garage band nostalgia--it's time for all of you to get up off your butts and call your state legislators about this pension legislation that the Illinois House will consider tomorrow.

For you active teachers, you will be forced to pay 2% more of your salary to TRS, and you will teach until you are 67 years old.  As an active teacher, you will be paying more money for less benefits.  Female teachers who stayed home with the kids and went back into the classroom after four or five years, you will be 75 before you retire. 

Ready to teach The Canterbury Tales, Grandma?  How about the Speech to Convince?

Retirees, this bill is worse for you.  Your Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will be frozen.  Retired teachers will not receive the COLA until age 67 (even if you have already been getting it), and then the COLA will be based on a meager salary of $25,000.  If, like me, you will draw Social Security benefits, the amount used for your COLA will be $20,000--that's 600 bucks a year.  SHEET!

Oh, yeah, if you worked in a job where you paid Social Security, there already is a law on the books where your SS benefits are garnished.  I worked 9 1/2 years full time and 34 1/2 years part-time in radio, but those benefits will go bye-bye next year when I turn 66 and begin to draw SS benefits.  I'll be lucky to get $250 a month from Social Security.

Geez, what did teachers ever do to these politicians.  They must have had a shitty teacher like the p.e teacher who terrorized my brother by reading his grades out loud to the entire gym class.

My mom took care of that asshole.  However, Uncle Roy's story will have to be saved for another day.  There are phone calls to be made tonight and Tuesday.

Mike Madigan.  The man pulling the strings.

Once again, Mike Madigan, Pat Quinn, and Tom Cross have left the unions in the lurch.  Neither the Illinois Federation of Teachers or the Illinois Education Association were invited to the table to negotiate future pension legislation.

The union proposal calls for everyone to bite the bullet--not just teachers!  Under the current bill being considered, teachers and other public employees pay.  Everyone else is off the hook!

The unions have proposed cutting out Illinois corporate tax breaks, having teachers pay more for their pensions, and requiring a law that forces the state to make its pension payments.  Union leaders would also like to see a graduated income tax law passed.  Right now billionaire Penny Pritzker pays the same percentage of her income for state income tax as a first-year teacher pays.

Where are Laurence Msall, the president of the Civic Federation and Ty Fahner of the Civic Committee this week?  Both Msall and Fahner have been pounding the drum for pension reform, and their groups made up of millionaires and billionaires have been pouring money into radio/television commercials against public employee pensions.  But these jerk weeds disappear every time push comes to shove.

But teachers and other public employees have one thing that these rich bastards don't have.  Votes!  Last night when I was going through my list of state legislators (My House and Senate districts will change Wednesday when the new General Assembly is sworn in), Senator Chris Lauzen of Aurora answered his phone in person.

State Senator Chris Lauzen
Lauzen, who has never been a friend of teachers, listened to my arguments and promised to look closely at any legislation that comes before the Illinois Senate.  I don't know if I persuaded him to vote "no" on Elaine Nekritz's bill, but I felt good about the phone call.

You must call too.  We have power at the ballot box, and these politicians do not want to be voted out of office.  Just think how many retired teachers and retired NIU professors live in DeKalb County.  Lauzen and other politicians know this, and they will not vote for a bill that undermines their chance for re-election.  

Probably the most persuasive argument against the current pension legislation is the fact that the pending bill is unconstitutional.  There is a clause in the Illinois State Constitution that prevents existing pension benefits from being “diminished or impaired.”

The two teachers unions are also telling legislators that they are violating their oath of office by voting for this bill:  “I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of …. to the best of my ability.”

Maybe we should make a citizen's arrest and throw those legislators who vote for this bill in jail!

My wife and I were forced out of teaching because Mike Madigan and his buddy Rod Blagojevich skipped the $405 million dollar payment to the Teachers Retirement System in 2005.  We had one chance to get out under the old pension formula.  We HAD to retire.

I told Representative Kay Hatcher's secretary this morning that I wanted my old job back.  "If Kay votes 'yes,'" I told the secretary, "I want to go back into the public school classroom full-time.  And I'll sue if I can't return."  The secretary was quiet for a long time.

So find out who your legislators are, go to the We Are One Illinois web site.  Fill out the form, and the web site will automatically connect you with your legislator.  Leave a message for your state representative and your state senator.   Simply leave your name, address, and phone number, and tell them that the pension legislation being considered is unconstitutional.

It is a simple task.  DO IT!  YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT!

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