Frequent McHenry County visitor Allen Skillikorn, an East Dundee Village Trustee, has submitted the following piece on our state’s pension problem:
Who’s Really To Blame For Illinois’ Pension Mess?
By Allen Skillicorn
Let’s go back to May 2005. Rod Blagojevich wasn’t in a Colorado prison cell yet, he was still in his first term as Illinois’ Governor.
2005 was the top of the housing boom, so the economy was humming along and tax revenue was flowing in.
The Illinois unemployment rate was only 5.9%, not as good as the national average at that time, but significantly better than today’s 9% rate.
We keep hearing IL’s public sector unions blame the legislature for missing pension payments.
While I agree that the State shares responsibility in the underfunding and promising over-generous benefits, that’s not the entire picture.
Illinois has a May 31st deadline to pass fiscal bills, so they can be enacted January 1st of the next year.
Governor Blagojevich, Speaker Madigan, and Senate President Jones had a plan to spend the annual pension payment on more social programs instead of investing the payment in the pension system.
Today we call it a “pension holiday.”
The plan also included pension sweeteners and the infamous government-pensions-for-union-bosses scheme.
It was passed by Democratic Party members in both the House and Senate on May 31st, 2005. Details can be found in Senate Bill 27.
Today if you listen to the public sector unions, they blame the state for this pension holiday.
Unfortunately the truth is that the unions were aware of the pension holiday and fully supported the pension holiday.
Let’s look at the actually witness slips filed by four of the biggest public sector unions in Illinois.
SB 27 Proponents:
- Rich Frankenfeld, IEA (Pension double dipper with a Teacher’s Pension)
- Derek Blaida, CPS
- Steve Preckwinkle, IFT (Substitute taught for one day, now receives a full TRS Pension)
- Laura Arterburn, IFT
- Michael McGann, SEIU
- Kurt Anderson, SEIU
Records confirm that SEIU (Service Employees International Union), IEA (Illinois Education Association), CPS (Chicago Public Schools), and IFT (Illinois Federation of Teachers) all supported the 2005 pension holiday in exchange for these sweeteners and payouts for union bosses.
Also to be completely fair, the Retired State Employees Association opposed this holiday.