Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WTTW: The More Things Change...

2015:  Plus Ça Change

Now that I’m over the age of consent for anything but Powers of Attorney, it surprises me how often short term memory disappears and resurfaces in a matter of weeks…like floating objects on a glassy lake.  What bumps, dislodges or releases the reminiscences is hard to tell, but on occasion something will happen which unleashes a raft of them splashing about importantly.

Watching Chicago Tonight the other evening, I suddenly recalled my disregarded commitment to send money for legal support to the IRTA for the continued battle(s) against the state’s “pension theft.” 

On Monday, January 19th, Carol Marin on WTTW sat before three veteran legislators and one Tea Party freshman Representative to pose some questions about the coming budget crisis facing Illinois.  The unforthcoming Governor Rauner has thus far spoken sparingly about specifics – even after his election – regarding what to do with a tax rollback that will certainly create a fiscal bloodletting unless averted.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz
Present before Carol Marin were Representative Elaine Nekritz (D) from Northbrook, Senator Kwame Raoul (D) from Hyde Park, Senator Matt Murphy ® from Palatine, and Representative Peter Breen ® of Lombard. 

Because the program was concerned about the budgetary crisis facing Illinois, and because I’d happened to read Glen Brown’s recent blog about the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy identifying Illinois as having the 5th most unfair taxation policy in the Union, I was armed with not only schema but interest.

On changing the current tax structure, an issue proposed by Carol Marin with some suggestion toward a “progressive” plan, Nekritz jumped right in: Yes, I hope we would look at that.  For example, about half 46% of all retirement income that is not taxed in Illinois goes to people under the age of 65.  That's one of the things I think we should be considering and looking at”. 

When asked if this idea were "Democratic heresy?”Nekritz replied that it wasn't “when you consider we always want to broaden the base to lower the rate, which is always the goal of tax policy.”

Sen. Matt Murphy
In fact, Nekritz’s plan identifying retirement revenue for those under 65 in a state facing a $6 billion deficit this next year without significant changes in taxation and policy is like hunting down buffalo with a peashooter.  Evidently, the very concept of a progressive tax was too treacherous for her to mention in any way on even local television – or perhaps in front of Speaker Madigan, her boss. 
It would appear that Senator Harmon’s ditched progressive tax plan offering a 4% increase in revenue (or the CTBA’s offering a 6% increase) is not on Nekritz’s political horizon for the present.  Or the future?

And as for Pension Theft? 

Except for the newest member of the General Assembly, the others all had a few words to offer on whether the upcoming Illinois Supreme Court decision will be helpful.  Interestingly, none of the three seemed overly optimistic that the seven justices will find in favor of SB1 – the piece of legislation constructed by a Quinn-appointed team that included them all.

Murphy hoped that some judiciary “tea leaves” would result, giving them some concept of what might work better.

Nekritz, who had earlier erroneously labeled the pension payment as the largest part of the budget (rather than call it the pension payback for all the decades we never paid in to what was owed to public workers), now suggested that the General Assembly had wisely never counted on the savings of SB1 in looking forward at the current budgetary crisis. 

Of course her statement flies in the face of the Speaker’s daughter’s AG contrived demand for Police Powers because without that SB1 money the state remains in fiscal crisis.  Maybe she's planning on my forgetting...

Sen. Kwame Raoul
BUT most importantly was Kwame Raoul’s hope that “better guidance” from the Illinois Supreme Court will give them strategies with which to begin negotiating again.”  

Negotiating with whom? 

Now I remember...

Dear IRTA Members,

As the leading advocate for Illinois retired educators, the IRTA continues to fight to preserve your benefits. Protecting your benefits is our number one mission. That is what we do! We are a proud, strong organization that exemplifies purpose and integrity and working together; we can accomplish anything!

This determination has been demonstrated the past year with our successful challenge in Circuit Court to the unconstitutional legislation known as SB 1. This law, passed in late 2013, would have reduced our COLA and our overall pension benefit by a considerable amount.

Any donation, large or small, is appreciated. A suggested contribution is to compare your take-home pension amount [net] for January 2015 to your take-home amount [net] in February 2015. This is your monthly increase provided by your COLA and demonstrates the value of the 3% compounded annual benefit. We are recommending one month's increase as your contribution.

Thank you for your support. Please send your donation to IRTA, 620 N Walnut St., Springfield IL 62702. Checks should be made payable to the IRTA Legal Defense Fund, or you can go to the IRTA web-site home page and look under IRTA Events to donate online.

Thank you again!


Bob Pinkerton, IRTA President
To donate to the Legal Defense Fund


  1. “In whose world view of fairness is there taxing retirees ahead of billionaires?” (Klonsky).

    “There can be no doubt that behind [any attempt to tax retirees (who were public employees)]…, there is [a dissolute] organization at work. An organization which not only [perpetuates] corrupt [dealings via politicians (like Madigan, Nekritz, Biss, et al.)]…, of whom the best that can be said is that they recognize their own limitations, but also have at [their] disposal [bureaucratic alternatives in addition to subornative corporatists, lobbyists and officious reporters]. .. And the significance of this… [maleficent] organization…? It consists in this, that innocent persons [are victimized by prejudicial] senseless [rulings that] are put in motion against them… How is it possible… to prevent gross corruption [in Illinois]…?” (With apologies to Franz Kafka, The Trial).

    Re-amortize the pension debt.
    Expand Illinois’ sales tax base.
    Enact a graduated rate income tax.
    Establish a financial transaction tax: a .50 cent tax on every $100 of transacting. “We used to have a financial transaction tax in this country from 1914 to 1966” (Bill Moyers).

    1. Here, here. Would that they might listen, my friend.