Responses from the General Assembly Regarding Proposed Pension Bomb

3 Dec

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding this very important issue.  I am writing to let you know that I have just arrived to Springfield and I was literally just handed the bill.  I plan to sit down, read the bill cover to cover, attend the pension reform hearing at 8:30 am tomorrow morning and weigh every option that needs to be weighed.  At stake here is the financial constraints of the state versus the benefits our retirees have earned.  I hope to get back to you with a more informed decision once I have fully reviewed the bill.

Sincerely,

Barbara Wheeler
State Representative – District 64

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The General Assembly has been debating pension reform proposals for more than a year now. Several different proposals have been put forward, none of which seem likely to pass constitutional muster.

The state’s pension systems are not in trouble because of any action by our state employees or teachers. They paid their required pension contributions into the system and deserve their pensions.

We face over $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because past governors and General Assemblies repeatedly stole from the pension systems to pay for their overspending.

In 2005, Governor Blagojevich and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly raided $3.5 billion in pension funds to hide a structural budget deficit with a pension grab. This deliberate under-funding of our pension systems increased the state’s unfunded pension liability by more than $38 billion.

The Governor and General Assembly have a constitutional responsibility to adequately fund the state’s pension systems and guarantee the pension benefits of current state employees.

Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution states that “membership in any pension or retirement system of the State… shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

There are very few retirees with lavish pensions. Most retired state employees and teachers receive a pension that averages less than $30,000 per year, and teachers do not receive social security.

The We Are One Coalition has already threatened to sue to protect the hard-earned benefits of teachers and state employees.

I cannot in good conscience vote for pension changes that I believe are unconstitutional. This legislation will end up being litigated in the courts, costing the State even more money.

We have an obligation to properly fund our pension systems. It’s time for the State to live up to its responsibilities.

Sincerely,

John Cabello
State Representative – District 68

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Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about pension reform.  I appreciate your input.
The bill is still being refined, with additional discussion tomorrow when we are in Springfield.   To follow the path of this issue in greater detail, I urge you to view www.ilga.gov.

Again, thank you for contacting me.

Cordially,
Kay Hatcher

State Representative-50th Dist.

==============================

Thank you for your recent communication urging opposition to current
pension proposals. I believe the Illinois Legislature should be
working with organizations that represent public employees to solve
this problem.

For me to support a proposal, it must be constitutional, and not place
an endure burden on employees. I will keep your thoughts in mind if a
proposal is called for a vote. Thanks for your generous time an
consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact
my office.

Sincerely,

Jay C. Hoffman
Illinois State Representative
113th District

==================================

Thank you for your correspondence.

As pension reform continues to be discussed, please recognize I have listened to numerous constituents on the issue and thoroughly recognize your concerns.

I can assure you my decision will be carefully made with all viewpoints in consideration.

Sincerely,
Signature
Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant
49th District – Illinois

========================================

Thank you for taking the time to contact me in relation to pension reform.

As you may know, I voted “no” on Senate Bill 1, the Speaker Madigan’s pension reform bill in the Spring session.  I felt that SB 1 was punitive towards our retirees and highly likely to be unconstitutional.

I also was very up front about being a “no” vote on former House Minority Leader Tom Cross’ bill HB 512.  Although this bill was never called for a vote, I told Leader Cross on two separate occasions that I would not vote for the bill for the same reasons.

I am a co-sponsor of SB 2404, Senate President John Cullerton’s bill that is favored by the public unions.  This bill would undoubtedly pass in the House of Representatives and has already received 40 votes in the Senate. (only 30 are needed to pass a bill).  Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan continues to refuse to call the bill for a vote.

The language of the new bill was just released late Sunday evening, thus, I am just now having the opportunity to review the details.  While I certainly will reserve the opportunity to review the current language, I have been very consistent in my opposition to measures that aer punitive towards our retirees and those leaning towards retirement.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughtful insight and perspective.

Sincerely,

Chad Hays
State Representative – District 104

===========================

Thank you for your email regarding the latest proposal to reform our pension systems.  I’ve not had the chance to review the bill, however, I’ve certainly made note of where you stand on the issue.  Should this matter come up for a vote, I will certainly take your views into consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to reach out. Please don’t hesitate to contact me again. 

Sincerely,

Tim Schmitz
State Representative – District 65

========================

Thank you for contacting me, I  look forward to hearing the opinions of constituents.  I will vote to keep the benefits that were constitutionally promised to you.

Also, thank you for your service to our community.  I appreciate your correspondence, and if there is ever a time I can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Regards,

Adam Brown

===================================

Friends:

 

Thank you to the hundreds of you who have written or called in the last few days to express your opinions on pension reform.  I have read each email, listened to each message and spoken with many of you.

 

By this point, I had hoped to be able to update you on a finalized pension reform proposal.  However, despite the various summaries and soundbites that have been made available, no actual legislation is yet available for review.  Below is some information based on what we know at this point. <snip> <explanation of pension history, etc.>

</snip>

When the pension legislation is finally available for review, I will analyze it carefully with all of your thoughtful comments in mind.  While I cannot promise to make everyone happy on this contentious issue, I can promise to cast a vote that reflects both a thorough understanding of the bill’s implications and a commitment to putting Illinois on the right path.   

 

Please continue to write and call our office.  Your thoughts and comments are appreciated and a crucial part of our democracy.  Thank you for the privilege of representing you.

 

 –Scott Drury

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