Our Weekly Reader for the Week of 8/25/13

In some sense, nothing has changed on Pensions since July. This spring, the House passed a catastrophic pension cutting bill and the Senate passed a devastating one somehow supported by the public unions. The House bill already failed (in effect) in the Senate. The House Speaker refused to call the Senate bill, which he knew would pass. An ad hoc 10-member conference committee was formed and is still working. Gov. Quinn has line-item vetoed the salaries of legislators until they pass a bill. On Friday, material starting leaking about what might be the output of the conference.

Here are links for the trial-balloons from the Associated Press, from Reuters, and Rich Miller’s commentary at CapitolFax. As Miller says, “This is not a done deal, by any means. There is no consensus as of yet on the pension reform conference committee. It’s a list of items that conference committee members have agreed to forward to the actuaries.”

The Keystone Research Center released a study of the IGPA plan endorsed by the university presidents. The executive summary of the study found that, “The ‘Universities’ proposal to alter public employee pension systems in Illinois would significantly undermine the retirement security of teachers and state workers. An estimated 80 cents on the dollar of pension system savings from the plan would be borne by retirees through a reduction in cost-of-living increases over the course of retirement.”

Jeffrey Brown, one of the authors of the IGPA study, responded: “I don’t love our proposal either… However, I honestly consider to be the best – by far – of a wide range of distasteful options.”  CFA continues to think that the State should be held to its contractual and constitutional obligations to its employees, past and present.

Lastly, there was coverage here of a protest held last week by AFSCME workers on campus.