Somebody asked me if I was ever going to post any good news . . . well, let’s start with the issue we need to address. I had heard that legislators were trying to revive efforts in creating a two-tier pension bill, but did not realize they resurrected it so quickly. The issue had lain dormant through the fall and winter, but clearly has resurfaced. With the other issues we have going on, we must stay focused and address all of them at once. On Tuesday, I received the notice that Speaker Madigan was planning on moving pension legislation this week. As most of you, I was focused on my students yesterday and decided to take a look into the situation today. Obviously, the typically slow wheels of legislation are in hyperdrive.
The IEA website on March 24th displays: “The Illinois House already voted today, and passed, a proposal that would cut pension benefits for future members of the state pension systems, including TRS and SURS. You are urged to contact your state senator NOW and tell them to vote no on HB 1946. They could vote AS SOON AS TONIGHT on this issue!” STOP SB 1946 – CALL NOW!
The same IEA page illustrates some main provisions of the proposal:
- New retirement age – 67 with 10 years of service (Penalty for those that retire before 67 but after 62)
- Final Average Salary (FAS) – Calculates the pension of educators by using the 8 highest consecutive years of salary in the last 10 years of service. (Currently, 4 of 10)
(Maximum pensionable salary equal to $106,800 and indexed to 3% or ½ of CPI, whichever is less.)
- Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – Reduces the COLA to 3% or ½ of CPI, whichever is less.
- Addresses some issues of double dipping.
- Legislates a Chicago Teacher Pension Holiday of $400 million in FY 2011.
IEA’s SB-1946-Amendment 2-Two-Tier Pension Proposal Fact Sheet gives further information
For those of you like me who like to read the information for yourselves, I found the Full Text of SB1946 on the Illinois General Assembly website
We are urged to contact Senator Bomke at 217-782-0228 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
While teacher pensions have been a target in the press, the public fails to recognize the following:
- The pension that Illinois teachers get is equitable to or less than that of our surrounding states
- Teachers do not pay into Social Security and, therefore, are not eligible for Social Security Benefits
- The State of Illinois has been borrowing from TRS funds without re-funding that money – creating the current funding issue of our pension.
IEA has not agreed upon this proposal and does not support it. IEA provides a template email if you would like to send a message to your legislator, but as Krista Crossland recommended last week, it is much better to send a heartfelt, self-written note. Remember to ask for Senator Bomke’s support; he has been there when we’ve asked before.
I hope you all read far enough to get to the Good News. I am proud to say that PPEA members have been actively making their voices heard, showing support and giving suggestions in a tough time. Pink Friday was well received, and I thank everyone: faculty, staff, administration, students, and community members who supported Education by wearing Pink.