Posts Tagged Illinois public pension crisis

Chicago police and fire pension reform bill

Excerpts from the

After 10 months, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s closest ally in Springfield has sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation giving Chicago 15 more years to ramp up to a 90 percent funding level for police and fire pensions.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has been holding the bill — approved by the Illinois House and Senate last spring — amid concern that Rauner would veto the legislation to squeeze cash-strapped Chicago and strengthen his own hand in the budget stalemate over the governor’s demand for pro-business, anti-union reforms.

The delay has already been costly to Chicago taxpayers. Two weeks ago, Emanuel used $220 million in short-term bridge financing to make a state-mandated payment to police and fire pension funds that’s higher than his tax-laden 2016 budget anticipated because the police and fire pension reform bill has not been signed into law.

On March 31, Cullerton quietly sent the legislation to the governor’s desk. The governor has 60 days to act on the bill. If he vetoes the bill, there would still be time to attempt an override before the spring session ends.

In a statement, the governor’s office said: “The governor has been clear he will consider this legislation as part of a broader package of structural reforms that help taxpayers across the state. He welcomes dialogue and negotiation with all stakeholders as the process moves forward.”

A mayoral confidante, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s important for the city. It needs to get done. If he signs it, great. If he does nothing, that’s good for us as well. If he vetoes it, it would go back to the Senate. It passed the first time with 38 votes. We need 36 votes to override. All we’re asking for is the same funding arc that downstate police and fire already have. There’s no reason for [Rauner] not to sign it.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, Emanuel said “Current state law requires that Chicago taxpayers close a $550 million gap in one year, even though it was created by decades of underfunding. That’s why I worked with members of the General Assembly to pass . . . a reasonable and responsible funding plan that has the support of police and fire union leaders, passed both the House and Senate, and was included in Gov. Rauner’s own pension reform plan. If this bill becomes law, we will ensure that our first responder [police and fire]  pensions are secured and fully-funded, while reducing the impact on Chicago’s taxpayers.”

After authorizing the $220 million short-term borrowing, Emanuel emphatically rejected the suggestion that he made a mistake by trusting his old friend Rauner to sign the police and fire pension reforms.

“I am not going to go to the property taxpayers of Chicago, who just stepped up in a big way, and say, ‘You should pay $250 million more because Springfield’s politics are dysfunctional. I’m not going to ask taxpayers to pay more to make up for Springfield’s failures,” the mayor said.

On March 16, trustees of the firefighters pension fund demanded that the city release $47.1 million on deposit with the treasurer within 31 days, so that it can be invested by the pension fund. But sources said Tuesday that demand has since cooled off.

“As long as the pension fund gets the money they are owed by law, the city has fulfilled their end of the bargain . . . The way the law reads, they have to account for the money. The money has been set aside. Their hope is there’s some movement with legislation down in Springfield. If that does not happen, that money set aside will be given, I guess, at the end of the year. As of right now, they haven’t done anything wrong, ” Tom Ryan, president of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 said.

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Illinois mayors push for pension reform

The Illinois Observer has an article about Illinois mayors going to Springfield about public pension reforms:

Nearly two dozen Illinois Mayors will gather in Springfield on Wednesday (May 7) to urge Illinois lawmakers to cut local police and fire pension benefits to provide relief to local budgets.

The mayors argue that “if the pension crisis is not fixed this year, municipalities will have no other choice but to raise property taxes or make further cuts to essential services, including laying off police officers and firefighters”.

Fire and police union officials argue that the mayors have already won pension benefits cuts in a landmark 2010 pension reform bill that lowered retirement benefits for new hires and that they have failed to prepare for the required pension payments due in 2015. Labor leaders also say that they mayors need to be honest with local voters regarding the real costs of municipals services.

Pension negotiations are taking place in Springfield this week between mayors and union officials, talks which are being brokered by State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) at the direction of Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

Meanwhile, 23 mayors will appear at a press conference in the state capitol press conference room at 12:30 p.m. to call on lawmakers approve changes to public safety pension systems before they adjourn on May 31.

The mayors attending the press conference are:

  • Mayor Michael J. Houston – Springfield
  • Mayor Darryl Lindberg (IML President) – Loves Park
  • Mayor Mike McElroy – Decatur
  • Mayor Mary Jane Chesley – Mt. Vernon
  • Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey – Rockford
  • Mayor Scott Eisenhauer – Danville
  • Mayor Jim Ardis – Peoria
  • Mayor Andy Ezard – Jacksonville
  • Village President Al Larson – Schaumburg
  • Mayor Bill McLeod – Hoffman Estates
  • Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr. – North Chicago
  • Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl – Evanston
  • Mayor Joseph J. Broda – Lisle
  • Mayor Karen Darch – Barrington
  • Mayor Eugene Williams – Lynwood
  • Mayor Roger C. Claar – Bolingbrook
  • Mayor Tim Grover – Mattoon
  • Mayor Scott J. Harl – Peru
  • Mayor Dale Adams – Rockton
  • Village President Richard Reinbold – Richton Park
  • Mayor Jerry Turry – Lincolnwood
  • Village President Rodney S. Craig – Hanover Park
  • Mayor Mike Chamberlin – Belvidere

thanks Dan

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