TRS Writes Retirees

The following email was sent to retired teachers yesterday:

Welcome to July!

TRS LogoAs you know, Illinois’ state government begins fiscal year 2016 without a comprehensive state budget. As the stalemate in the state Capitol continues, we’d like to remind you of some key facts:

  • TRS Benefit Payments – The System’s top priority is to ensure all benefits continue to be paid. Since all benefits are funded by the TRS trust fund – not state government – the System does not need legislative approval to pay any benefits. State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said in June that her office will pay all pensions, even if no state budget is in place. TRS will inform you if this situation changes.
  • TRS Member Services and Staff – The absence of a state budget could hamper day-to-day TRS operations. TRS staff salaries also are funded by the trust fund, not by a legislative appropriation. TRS will continue operations despite the lack of a state budget. But TRS depends on other state agencies – the state comptroller, the state treasurer and the Department of Central Management Services – for the transfer of funds in the TRS investment portfolio and the payment of salaries and obligations. The lack of a state budget could affect these agencies and TRS will work with them closely to minimize any inconveniences. TRS will inform you if this situation changes.
  • The FY 2016 Education Budget – On June 24 Gov. Rauner signed into law the state’s K-12 education budget for FY 2016 that had been approved by the General Assembly. This spending authorization included the state’s annual contribution to TRS, which in FY 2016 is $3.7 billion, as well as the annual contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program, which in FY 2016 is $108.3 million.

TRS will continue to keep you informed.

Member Services Division
Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois

Message of the Day – A Sign

On our vacation, we spent Sunday afternoon driving around Kentucky’s Barren County.

The Barren County Courthouse is located in Glasgow, Kentucky.

The Barren County Courthouse is located on a Square in Glasgow, Kentucky.

We took roads in all directions from the county seat of Glasgow.

South of town, I got a photo of the following sign, the first I have ever seen about the Seventh Commandment.

"Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery," says this Barren County, Kentucky, sign says.

“Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery,” says this Barren County, Kentucky, sign says.

Wilbrandt Points Out Campaign Financing Law Allows Father’s $10,000 Donation

Wilbrandt, Dan facing camera Lincoln Day Dinner

Dan Wilbrandt

Yesterday I asked whether the State Campaign Finance law had tripped up Dan Wilbrandt’s campaign to replace Mike Tryon for State Representative.

Today, Wilbrandt sent me the law in question:

Please find below an excerpt from the IL Board of Elections Campaign Disclosure Guide.  Laurence Wilbrandt is my father and, as my immediate family member, is allowed to give unlimited contributions to my committee.  I have attached the entire guide for your reference as well.

I hope that you will correct your recent post about his contribution.

“Self-funding Candidates: A candidate/public official or their immediate family members (spouse, parent or child) can make unlimited contributions to that public official or candidate’s political committee. However, under certain circumstances, such a public official or candidate may be considered a “self-funding candidate”. Reaching this designation causes the contribution limits for all candidates (including the self-funding candidate) for the same office to be waived, allowing those candidates to receive unlimited contributions.”

Happy 4th of July!

CL Parade Pols

Mark Kirk in Crystal Lake's 2010 parade.

Mark Kirk in Crystal Lake’s 2010 parade.

Wondering whom I would be taking pictures of in Crystal Lake’s Sunday Independence Day Parade, I asked the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce for those considered political entries.

Here’s what Chamber Exec Mary Margaret Maule provided:

  • U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
  • McHenry County Republican Party
  • Young Republicans
  • State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi
  • Sheriff Bill Prim
  • County Board member Donna Kurtz
  • Team [Allen] Skillicorn, candidate for the GOP nomination for State Rep. to replace retiring Mike Tryon

Republican candidates, of course, may march with the Party or YR entry, of course.

That’s what Bruce Rauner did last year.

Bruce Rauner gave a thumbs up as he sees his marchers.  He is accompanied by Congressman Randy Hulltgren in the Crystal Lake Independence Day Parade.

Bruce Rauner gave a thumbs up as he sees his marchers. He iwas accompanied by Congressman Randy Hulltgren in the Crystal Lake Independence Day Parade last year.

Rauner, in fact, did something I have seen no other politician do.

He walked from the back of the parade route toward the front.

I don’t know where he started, but Congressman Randy Hultgren, who was walking with him greeting the crowd, was sweating when he reached the Methodist Church on Dole Avenue.

Is Carolyn Schofield Considering Run for State Rep.?

Carolyn Schofield

Carolyn Schofield

The following is from new commenter “On Target” appeared under the article about Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka’s having put $100,000 into a new campaign fund in an effort to replace State Rep. Mike Tryon in the General Assembly:

Three conservative males and one pro-choice female(Carolyn Schofield).

Liberal wins.

Others besides the new person on the comment board have suggested that McHenry County Board and former Crystal Lake City Council member Schofield is looking at the race.

She has not, however, replied to an email asking about such an ambition.

My observation when people suggested that she might be running and could win against three conservative men was

Could be.

The three men are

  • Allen Skillicorn
  • Paul Serwatka
  • Dan Wilbrandt

If she runs and is the Pro-Choice candidate backed by the pro-abortion PAC Personal PAC, she will have a formidable campaign.

It is doubtful a Pro-Choice candidate could defeat a Pro-Life candidate in a one on one race in that district, however.

McSweeney Won’t Accept Pay If Employees Aren’t Paid

A press release from State Rep. David McSweeney:

Rep. David McSweeney opts out of legislative pay if budget impasse means state employees do not get paid

Dave McSweeney

Dave McSweeney

Springfield, IL – State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) today sent Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger a letter asking to be removed from the state’s direct deposit payroll until further notice saying he does not want to accept his legislative salary if state employees are not getting paid.

State law allows legislators to receive pay even if a state budget agreement is not in place. However, if a state budget deal is not reached before July 15th, state employees might not be able to receive their pay.

McSweeney said by opting out of the state’s direct deposit system he is following the lead of State Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) who has also sent the Comptroller a letter opting out of his legislative pay.

“I do not think it is right for legislators to receive a paycheck when state employees might not receive the pay they have rightfully earned. We should do our job and quickly adopt a permanent budget without any tax increases.”

Paul Serwatka Puts $100,000 into State Rep. Race

Newly-elected write-in candidate for Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka seems to have set his sights on the Illinois House of Representatives.

Signaling his intention to run for State Representative less than a week after Crystal Lake Republican Mike Tryon announced he would retire at the end of this term, Serwatka filed a Statement of Organization for a political candidate committee called “Take Back Illinois with Paul Serwatka.”

Paul Serwatka's Statement of Organization, filed on July 1, 2015.

Paul Serwatka’s Statement of Organization, filed on July 1, 2015.

Paul Serwatka

Paul Serwatka

Of more than passing interest is the statement that $100,000 has been deposited in the fund’s checking account.

Two other village trustees have indicated they are seeking the same legislative seat:

  • Allen Skillicorn, East Dundee Village Trustee
  • Dan Wilbrandt, West Dundee Village Trustee

Wilbrandt has $35,000 in his campaign fund.

Skillicron has put $3,000 into his fund since the last reporting period, when the fund reported having $7,755.68.

An additional $1,000 was donated to Skillicorn by Elgin City Councilman Toby Shaw on Monday.

Rauner Settles with Teamsters

A press release from Governor Bruce Rauner:

State, Teamsters Reach Tentative Agreement

Workers at IDOT, DHS, IDES, and CMS in Cook County to Vote on New Contract

SPRINGFIELD – After several productive rounds of good faith negotiations, the Illinois Governor’s Office and Teamsters Local 700 have agreed to terms on a new four-year collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expired June 30, 2015.

The new contract covers nearly 350 workers at IDOT, CMS, IDES, and DHS in Cook County. The employees work as highway maintainers, heavy equipment operators, and building service and maintenance workers.  Negotiations are ongoing for employees represented by Teamsters locals at locations covering the rest of Illinois.

The terms of the tentative agreement include:

  • Maintenance of the current level of health care benefits for employees and their dependents as part of the State’s continued contributions to the independent Teamsters Local 727 Health & Welfare Fund.
  • A four-year wage freeze, continuing the 75% in-hire rate.
  • Continuation of a 40-hour work week.
  • A new performance incentive program to reward employees with bonuses for cost-saving measures and meeting or exceeding performance metrics.
  • A collaborative program that allows management and the Teamsters to work together to provide low-cost alternatives to outsourcing.
  • A reduction in the payout for accumulated unused vacation from 75 to 45 days for employees hired after January 1, 2016.

The tentative agreement will be submitted to the membership of Teamsters Local 700 for a ratification vote.

As a continuation of the productive negotiating sessions, the Teamsters and the Governor’s Office also pledged to form a long-term relationship to improve employer-labor relations in state government.

Has Campaign Finance Rule Tripped Wilbrandt?

Dan Wilbrandt

Dan Wilbrandt

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog reported that one of the men who wants to replace State Rep. Mike Tryon as State Representative reported receiving $35,000.

$25,000 was from the candidate himself and another $10,000 was given by Lawrence Wilbrandt.

Today, while trying to catch up on newspapers that arrived while we were on vacation, I read a June 14th column by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki.

She told of how Governor Bruce Rauner had apparently promised to support a potential Champaign Republican candidate, Rob Meister, to the tune of $1 million.

A candidate committee, such as Rauner’s, is allowed by state law to contribute $53,000 to another campaign.

That’s a far cry from a million dollars.

The reporter then points out another campaign finance limitation.

The limit for individual contributions is “about $5,600.”

That got me wondering how Lawrence Wilbrandt could legally donate $10,000 to Dan Wilbrandt.

Meanwhile, Allen Skillicorn, another candidate from Dundee Township, reported receiving $1,000 from Citizens for Toby Shaw.  Shaw is on the Elgin City Council, elected in 2013.

= = = = =
Let me point out that I don’t think there should be limitations on campaign contributions.

There should, however, be much more rapid reporting than current state law requires.

= = = = =
On July 2nd, Wilbrandt sent the following email:

Please find below an excerpt from the IL Board of Elections Campaign Disclosure Guide. Laurence Wilbrandt is my father and, as my immediate family member, is allowed to give unlimited contributions to my committee. I have attached the entire guide for your reference as well.

I hope that you will correct your recent post about his contribution.

“Self-funding Candidates: A candidate/public official or their immediate family members (spouse, parent or child) can make unlimited contributions to that public official or candidate’s political committee. However, under certain circumstances, such a public official or candidate may be considered a “self-funding candidate”. Reaching this designation causes the contribution limits for all candidates (including the self-funding candidate) for the same office to be waived, allowing those candidates to receive unlimited contributions.”

Happy 4th of July!

I have written a separate article about it.