Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pension "Reform" Under Cover of a Major Holiday: Have They No Shame?

Pension Thieves: Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and Governor Pat Quinn
The Illinois State Legislature's leaders have agreed on a pension "reform" bill that is set for a rush vote next week (December 2-6).

Under cover of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, these bozos aren't releasing details of their bill to the public, only to fellow legislators.

These jokers are so sleazy I feel dirty just writing about them.  This is the same underhanded thing they did during the Memorial Day weekend last summer.

Wait till the holiday when teachers are busy and then screw them.  I was on the phone calling legislators offices Black Friday morning, and what do you think I got?  Ringing phones!  But you know "Mr. Speaker" and "Governor Gadfly" were in touch with the legislators via cell phone.

Here are some of the details about the "reform" bill that are trickling out:

If you are younger than 45 years of age, you will be working longer.  The retirement age will be raised.

If you have one of those big District 211 salaries over $100,000, get set to see your potential pension lowered as the legislature will only figure your pension on what is believed to be $106,000.  You're paying for something you will not receive.  Surprised?  Don't be; there's more!

The cost of living adjustment (COLA) for saps like me will be reduced from the current 3% compounded annually to a formula based on how long you worked and tied to the rate of inflation.  My wife, who taught 7 1/2 years longer than I did will now get a bigger COLA even though my pension is higher and I paid more into TRS than she did.  Fair?  Nah, fairness has been buried!

Current workers will pay less to the Teacher's Retirement System (TRS), but will get less.  This is being done so that active teachers won't bitch.  But you active teachers should know that you are getting screwed too!  You will work longer for less pension benefits than your retired colleagues received, and you've already paid more than we did.

A 401(K) system is being established for those who want to opt out of the defined pension plan and establish their own retirement accounts.  No word who is going to match the employee contribution.  Matching is the key to a successful 401(K), and with the State of Illinois broke and most school districts teetering on the brink of financial crisis because of the state's failure to pay its state aid on time, the 401(K) option looks dead on arrival.

The State of Illinois will be legally required to make its pension payments on time.  This same crap was promised in 1998 when the last pension bill was passed, and look what happened!  Governor Rod Blagojevich and his crony Mike Madigan moved the 2005 $405 million TRS contribution into shoring up the state budget.

Then the Chicago Tribune reports on Friday that retired teachers get "free" health insurance and that a teacher retiring in 2012 "could expect a starting pension of $72,693."  THESE ARE BOLD-FACED LIES.  I paid $11,040 in health insurance premiums to the state for my wife and me in 2012.  And the average teacher pension in Illinois is more like $30,000, not $72,693.  The Chicago Tribune is a lying joke!  I've invited Trib Editorial Page Editor R. Bruce Dold to sit in on my journalism class.  He needs remediation!

But this is what we have been left with.  Not only are they ramming those common core standards down our throats, they are also saying that we make too much money both while teaching and in retirement.

The Illinois State Constitution guarantees that retirement benefits "cannot be diminished," but if this bill is passed, the teachers unions, who by the way were completely left out of the just completed negotiations AGAIN, will be forced to sue.  I'm 65 years old.  I'm counting on that 3% COLA.  I paid for my pension!  I can't wait for a lawsuit to make its way through the court system.

It's the State of Illinois that shirked its funding responsibility, and yet I am the one who will suffer if this unconstitutional bill is passed.

God, I'm pissed off!

What can we do?

We must stop the Illinois State Legislature from passing this bill.  Go to the We Are One Illinois web site and get connected to your state senator and state representative.  Call him or her on Monday morning when you get up or during your free period.  Follow up your call with an e-mail.  Stop these sneaky bastards from ruining your life.

This may be our last chance!

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