Let’s Make Deal: SB2404
Quite honestly, I was at first befuddled when it came to choices as a retiree looking at SB2404. I’m not good at choices. I lose at Blackjack without fail.
Could be worse. I could be an active teacher looking at SB2404.
Thank goodness I’m not an active anymore. The spreadsheet on the IEA Fact Sheet reads like a graduate level test question for Monty Hall’s Let’s Make a Deal 403 (5 credits). Even the producers of TV's Let’s Make a Deal knew that optimal choices should range for three possibilities, not four. Imagine a fourth door in Let’s Make a Deal. Suddenly one booby prize becomes two booby prizes. That’s like playing roulette with two more loaded chambers. Bang, bang.
And the fine print in SB2404 for actives? Whew!
· A COLA that has a two year delay, but you get new, strange stuff.
· A 3% compounded COLA if you stop now with present salary to be configured.
· Delay your COLA for three years, if you are willing to pay and additional 2% over next two years and forever.
· Join a Cash Balance Plan if you’d like. By the way, the choices in a Cash Balance Plan far outnumber the possible choices for actives’ COLAS.
Decisions, decisions. And the appearances of choice (or consideration, if you are of a legal bent).
So, I skip the snares and traps laid for actives and look directly at my options as a retiree. Thank goodness – just two.
I can keep the 3% compounded COLA and receive retiree healthcare access if I agree to give 2 non-consecutive 1-year freezes of my COLA. OR I can keep my compound COLA and lose my opportunity to access state healthcare. Simple?
But then, it got even worse.
The IRTA announced that the first choice to receive health care access may come with the full cost of healthcare, not the state subsidized payment as in the past.
Bloggers, curse them for their interloping, later find a last minute amendment by Cullerton and others (Steans?) to force a full payment on the healthcare option, and NO guarantee that healthcare from the state (TRIP) will be provided at all. The blasted bloggers also suggest that my payment for healthcare from the state may come to $12,000 a year. That is, IF healthcare even exists after the passage of SB2404.
Come again? I realize, that first selection would be the same as those who chose not to have healthcare and keep their compound COLA’s (and purchase their own healthcare at full price). People would be selecting to freeze their pension COLA’s for two staggered years for no distinctive difference than those who chose the other option?
You got to be kidding! This has to be wrong, and – if it is true – it must be part of some bigger, comprehensive decision on the union leadership’s part. If not, they’d be condemning this last minute amendment. If not, they’d be explaining their decision, wouldn’t they?
So I went to the IEA website to find out what is up with this costly healthcare development in SB2404. Why did they agree to this or are they not? Nothing. (http://www.ieanea.org/media/2013/04/2404-FAQ-May-18-pdf.pdf)
So I went to the IFT website to see what they could tell me about this seemingly underhanded addition. Nada. (http://www.ieanea.org/media/2013/04/SB2404-As-Amended-Senate-5-13-13.pdf)
So I went to the We Are One Illinois website to get their perspective on this. Certainly they’d object to the sudden addition of a full payment with no promise of anything. Nope, I was wrong. Nothing there. (http://www.weareoneillinois.org/).
AFSCME? Nothing there either. (http://www.afscme31.org/news/union-backed-pension-bill-passes-senate)
Meanwhile, the IRTA is rattling sabers and threatening legal action to protect retirees, much to the chagrin and admonishment of the leadership in We Are One and its coalition of unions.
But for me, We Are One, well, they’ll explain the deeper and wiser strategy of verisimilitude in choices for retirees. They’ll explain the benefits of choosing to keep the healthcare at 100% payment without promise of healthcare. They have a plan, and I know they’ll communicate it sooner…or later. Won’t they?