An Illinois University President begs the Illinois legislature to pretty pretty please make sure original pension promises are kept:
Northern Illinois University President John Peters on Tuesday warned current and retired state university workers to brace for possible changes to their pension benefits in the fall.
“In my opinion, leaders in public higher education in Illinois must suggest viable alternatives that will address the very real financial distress confronting our pension systems,” he said.
Illinois’ five taxpayer supported pension systems, including pensions for university workers, are underfunded by $130 billion. To control that debt, lawmakers passed pension reforms this past year that trim costs for future workers.
Kelly Kraft, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget spokeswoman, said this past year’s reforms will save $200 billion over the coming decades for future employees, but they do little to address costs associated with current workers and current retirees.
This past spring, leaders in the Illinois House proposed to change current benefits by having current employees pay more for their benefits, see reductions, or have retirees pay for some of their health-care costs. State lawmakers are expected to revisit reforming pensions for current employees in the fall veto session.
But Peters said workers who made their contributions deserve full retirement benefits, and the state hasn’t lived up to its promises. He pointed to state lawmakers history for skipping or making partial pension payments to the Illinois pension systems.
“Many individuals on our state Legislature didn’t learn that lesson, or maybe they forgot that lesson: Once you make a deal with somebody, you keep it,” Peters said.
BWA HA HA HA
Dude, you’re in Illinois.
You can try the moral suasion, but I don’t think it will find much purchase. Not in Illinois. How much noise were you guys making all those years of contribution vacations? No, if you had made noise, the pols would have rightly pointed out the expense of those benefits and that they would be cut if they really wanted the pensions to be fully funded.
So they kept their traps shut.
They try the legal gambit as well:
Leo Welch, president of State University Annuitants Association, said the Illinois Constitution guarantees that once staff and faculty join the system, their pensions cannot diminished nor impaired.
“We fully support the constitutional provisions that protect current employees, as well as current annuitants,” Welch said.
Let me know how well that works in creating money. Oh, it doesn’t?
So now you are learning that government promises mean nothing. You cannot make a law that binds future generations, because future generations can say: “Nope. We weren’t the people who promised you. We’re going to use our money for something else.” You can sue all you want, but Constitutions can be amended, and laws and “promises” changed.
Of course, Mr. Prez of NIU has to make these noises, because, like Illinois politicians, he can lose his job. When you have a big employee base that is unfireable (aka tenured), and they get pissed off, you can be run out of the university.
Workers of Illinois, you need to wake up to the fact your power has been pissed away as the money has run out. New York workers have come alive to this. New Jersey workers are still having issues with reality.
So good luck, but Illinois has had trouble meeting its regular operating expenses. When it’s current services vs. past services, current will win. What are you going to do, Illinois retirees – strike? Vote for Republicans?
Adjust to your new reality.
Cross-posted to the Commune