Thursday, April 18, 2013

HB3411: Making Sausage with Chef Nekritz

I'm thinkin' 'bout being a politician, Mom.

Making Sausage…(Civic Committee Style with Chef Nekritz)

Two bills siting before Illinois legislators dramatically illustrate the polarized direction that “pension reform” could take. 

The first bill, HB3411, developed by Representative Elaine Nekritz and then-Representative Daniel Biss could likely be called for a vote in the House in the next two days.  Representative Tom Cross, who often promised he would never hurt current retirees, signed on eagerly as a co-sponsor. 

HB3411 is the bill heralded by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago as the preeminent method of dealing with the enormous debt owed to public sector workers after many decades of diverting the promised matching funds for other political purposes.  The Civic Federation, a business club, also endorses the bill.  The Chicago Tribune's editorial board, as evidenced in copy,  loves HB3411.

Retirees won't be affected.
It is, therefore, no surprise that HB3411 is designed to address the state’s enormous, resultant debt by further ignoring promises made to current retirees, punishing active workers with increases in contributions and loss of benefits earned, and jeopardizing the economic futures of would-be workers by creating new tiers and ultimately far less benefits. 

When you ask those many Representatives who signed on with Nekritz and Biss about the possible harm in the bill, you will not hear the words collaboration or pension protection clause or promise or benefit – except to say that they believe you have none of these given the dire situation in Illinois.  

They would also tell you that you are responsible for getting too much, living too long, making too much, not paying in enough, etc. 

SB2404 is another very different kind of bill sitting in a Senate Committee, and the bill represents a very opposite approach to finding some resolution to the enormous debt the state faces after so many years of delinquency in payments to public workers.  SB2404 was sponsored by Senator Linda Holmes and Senator Pamela Althoff.  The bill is also co-sponsored by another twenty-two Senators. 

The Civic Committee and the Civic Federation do not appreciate SB2404.  The Chicago Tribune considers it weak and insufficient in generating the kind of funding that would quickly replace the billions diverted by earlier politicians.  The Tribune and the business groups want that money back quickly, and they want it to come from the people who were owed the money to begin with.

It is, therefore, no surprise that SB2404 is designed to take a beginning, significant step toward fixing the debt the state owes the public workers.  SB2404 would provide a funding guarantee and work toward a dedicated revenue stream to pay pensions (as in IMRF).  It would require a two - three percent increase in contributions by public workers.  It is a start, and the sponsors see it that way. 

When you ask those many Senators who signed on with Senators Holmes and Althoff about the bill, you will hear the words you’d never hear from Rep. Nekrtiz and others talking about HB3411.  In fact, one Senator said, “While it is just one solution out of many, it (SB2404) is without a doubt constitutional.”  Another Senator remarked, “The measure of any man or politician is not the promises he keeps during good times, but during difficult times.  We need to keep our promises.”  Others like Senator Althoff attribute the bill’s strength to its “compromise and collaboration.”

Representative Elaine Nekritz
HB3411 is designed and groomed to trump legality, ignore contractual promises, blame those who were taken advantage of, directly challenge a constitutional clause, and shirk political responsibility and leadership.   Call your legislator now to vote “no” on HB3411.  And let’s remember those who brought HB3411 to life: Nekritz, Cross, Biss, Harris, Feigenholtz, Senger, Zalewski, Sente, Gabel, Davis, Harris, Arroyo, Hernandez, Burke, Mell, McSeeney, Schmitz, Sullivan, Sandack, Pihos, Hatcher, Sosnowski, Morrison, Wheeler, Osmond, Bellock,Durkin, Kosel, Tracy, Roth, Leitch, Sacia, and Dunkin. 

Also, make a phone call and remind Senate Committee members that SB2404 deserves life and needs to be released from committee to the floor: Harmon, Silverstein, Clayborne, J. Cullerton, Hunter, Lightford, Link, Munoz, Steans, Trotter, Murphy, Luechtenfeld, Radogno, Righter, Syverson.

Oh, by the way -

The Illinois Policy Institute does not endorse either bill, but backs another bizarre idea to do away with pensions altogether, but that’s another story first told by Ayn Rand.  

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