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Attack on pensions continues as Illinois General Assembly goes into final day

As the Illinois General Assembly moves into its final hours, Chicago and Chicago Public Schools lobbyists are pushing for changes in the structure of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) and, as a last minute warning indicates, another "pension holiday" for Chicago's Board of Education. At the same time, politicians are being deluged with phone calls from active and retired teachers across the state. But since the Chicago fund is separate from the rest of the state's teachers, there are separate efforts.

In Robo calls and other messages, the Chicago Teachers Union has been actively supporting its lobbyists. A message from CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson went out to the members on May 30, 2013:

Dear CTU member,

Only 36 hours remain in this legislative session. The Union is learning that pension reform is imminent.

We are strongly opposed to the bills proposed by Speaker Michael Madigan (SB1) and Sen. John Cullerton (SB2404). Our pensions are different than those for teachers elsewhere in Illinois. We’ve paid more and received less. Whatever happens to the rest of the state, however, will impact what happens to us.

Neither of these bills will fix any budget problems and Chicago Public Schools will demand thousands of layoffs to pay their pension bill.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to get out of the business of public education and public pensions. For years the district has skipped payments to leverage costly and failed experiments with education in Chicago. This is why there is a "crisis"—they want us to shoulder the collateral of their bad decisions.

Now we’re being subjected to further cuts—first school closings, now pension attacks, and next budget cuts, layoffs and rising class sizes.

I urge you to call and email your legislators immediately. Ensure that the constitutional right to our pensions remains intact. The future of our union is at stake over the next two days.

In solidarity,

Michael Brunson

CTU Recording Secretary

"Neither of these bills will fix any budget problems, and Chicago Public Schools will demand thousands of layoffs to pay their pension bill. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to get out of the business of public education and public pensions," a CTU message told them. "For years the district has skipped payments to leverage costly and failed experiments with education in Chicago. This is why there is a "crisis"—they want us to shoulder the collateral of their bad decisions. Now we’re being subjected to further cuts—first school closings, now pension attacks, and next budget cuts, layoffs and rising class sizes. Please call or email your legislators immediately to ensure that the constitutional right to our pensions remains intact."

On May 30, the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago, RTAC, sent out the following message:

"Speaker Madigan is about to introduce a bill to provide CPS with ANOTHER pension holiday. PLEASE call or visit your representative and senator as early as possible today (FRIDAY, May 31) and express you displeasure with this development..."

RTAC

111 N Wabash Ave.

Suite 2010

Chicago IL 60602

312-750-1522



Comments:

May 31, 2013 at 10:59 PM

By: Susan Furman

Pension holiday

I'm confused. Why did I receive an email from Stacy Davis Gates, CTU Political Director, encouraging me to contact legislators to vote YES to SB 1920. CTPF asked me to contact for a NO vote. I thought we didn't want a "pension holiday"?

June 1, 2013 at 6:55 PM

By: Bob Busch

Union sending mixed messages?

I got the same messages as Susan Furman. As retired teachers, we are no longer represented by the union although we can be members. The Board will now have to pay the CTPF $600

million instead of the $350 million they wanted to pay.

I was somewhat surprised by the email asking me to support SB1920 since that is how we got into this fix.

June 3, 2013 at 6:50 AM

By: John Stewart Whitfield Cutler

What page are we on?

Can every please turn to the chapter about Pensions in Illinois? The answer to the Bell ringer is what Vince?(Springfield is the biggest city in Illinois?) You're right, Vincent, it is not. And remember though we are treated differently than the rest of Illinois the "City of Big Shoulders" is still a part of Illinois isn't it Frank? Now how many Teacher pension systems are there in Illinois Francis

? I know you know this one.

June 3, 2013 at 5:53 PM

By: Rod Estvan

SB1920 as amended

Let's be clear here as to what happened with SB 1920 House Floor Amendment 2 which attempted to defer payments to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. This bill was a gut and replace on a shell bill done on the very last day of the session. Its sponsor was Rep Nekritz (Democrat- Buffalo Grove) who tried to pass the more restrictive pension reform bill that was backed by Speaker Madigan and opposed by the President of the Senate, SB 1920 House Floor Amendment 2 failed in a 29 to 78 vote.

You can see this vote at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/votehistory/98/house/09800SB1920_05312013_059000T.pdf

Here is what is interesting about the vote, regular Democrats from Chicago including some the CTU PAC endorsed in the past voted in favor. For example Soto, Turner, Feigenholtz, Currie, Monique Davis, and Flowers voted in favor. Needless to say the Speaker voted in favor. Many Democrats in the leadership voted no including Lang and William Davis who is the most knowledgeable member of the House on educational finance. All Republicans voted no.

I suspect CTU may have been given some lay off projections based on the full increased pension contribution numbers for years FY 14 and FY 15 and tried to create a modified pension payment increase deal with CPS and some Chicago Democrats which blew up. This was one of the more unexpected developments of the last day of the session.

Rod Estvan

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