Statement of We Are One Illinois coalition
July 25, 2012 – Speaker Madigan today informed our union coalition that he is considering calling HB 1447 on August 17. This bill would gut the provision allowing retirees on fixed incomes to keep up with rising costs. It would burden retirees with the overwhelming share of the state’s pension debt, punishing middle-class public servants for the sins of politicians. It would impact all participants in the State Employees Retirement System (SERS), including those under the Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General.
We have no certain knowledge of the Speaker’s intent. We reiterated to him today our willingness to work with the legislative leaders to develop a fair pension solution. We will ask legislators to support such a collaborative process, not this unfair and unconstitutional bill.
According to the Gatehouse News Bureau:
HB1447 contains the basic pension alternatives lawmakers believe should be offered to participants. They could keep the 3 percent compounded annual cost of living adjustment now called for by state pension systems, but if so, they would give up access to state-sponsored retiree health insurance and would no longer have future wage increases count toward their pensions.
If employees and retirees accept a lesser COLA, they will keep access to retiree health insurance and have future raises count toward their pensions. Under this plan, the COLA would be 3 percent or one-half the urban consumer price index, whichever is less. The COLA also would not be compounded.
Pension reforms derailed on the last day in the House because of a disagreement about whether the state should shift its costs for university worker and downstate teacher pensions away to local school districts and universities.
Many Republicans believe such a cost-shifting arrangement will lead to property tax increases.
However, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he wouldn’t vote for a pension reform bill that didn’t include cost-shifting, and many Democrats followed his lead.
For more information: www.weareoneillinois.org