Sunday, June 10, 2018

Senator Don Harmon Defends the 3% Cap on Locals' Collective Bargaining

Senator Harmon (Oak Park)
3% Caps?  We Did It To Stop the Cheating.  Sure…

I sometimes listen to Dick Kay’s Saturday afternoon program on WCPT while working in the yard or around the house. I like Mr. Kay because he often reminds me of myself.

Out of place in today’s political world, an analog guy stuck in a fast-moving and unfamiliar digital world.  Yesterday was not different, and poor Dick’s phone systems were down for the better part of the show and once he finally got them back anyone speaking to him was forced to compete with an echoing feedback which made thinking impossible.

Senator Don Harmon from Oak Park, Illinois, was on yesterday afternoon, and  the snafu in the phone lines gave him time to talk politics on many levels with Dick, who had been congratulating him for the end of the budget impasses.  Senator Harmon reminded Mr. Kay that he was happy with the bill, but reminded, “ You can’t please everyone all the time.”

That was exactly what I was thinking.  The budget bill had some carefully wrapped poison pills for public workers folded inside.

A ridiculous pension buyout plan that was so diminishing only a fool or a sadly terminally ill person would take it.   Also, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Tier One retiree to elect a cash payout instead of the constitutionally guaranteed compounded cost of living increases. 

I chose another venomous seed in the bill.

Eventually, I talked with Sen. Harmon of Oak Park to ask if he even felt
a little unsettled about passing a budget in which a 3% limit was
included in local districts’ bargaining before the district itself was
faced with paying the pension amount to the annuitant for life.

The answer was NO.

In fact, Sen. Harmon's defense was that some years ago local districts
were spiking, so the General Assembly put in a 6% limit which would be a cap and
the locals would have to pay anything above 6%.  “Still,”he said, “ there's been a
lot of fudging and manipulation, but we (GA) noticed that the 6%
really worked well in keeping people from spiking; thus, why not 3%?
That should work as well if not better than the 6%.”

When I asked about why the arbitrary assignment of 3%, the multi-year
contracts that might add up to beyond 3%, the possibility of an
Inflationary economy, the intrusion into collective bargaining by the
General Assembly - he dismissed that as a necessary means to limit the costs of
pension abuses.

When I reminded him that the pension abuses were the result of the
State’s not paying the required payments so that we are now looking at an
unfunded liability of $150 billion for which we all pay an 8% interest, I was dismissed from the discussion.

You sit down with the devil (Rauner), my friends, and you do his work.
Before I was dropped from the echoing conversation, I told Senator Don Harmon that he and the GA were responsible for completing and creating a legacy for the hopefully one-time Governor.

Earlier, when the phones and poor Dick Kay was in confusion, he and Dick had been talking about the dangers of JANUS.

 The General Assembly is JANUS.

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