Thanks to WE ARE ONE - ILLINOIS for the updates.
Wednesday update, 3:10 p.m.: The Senate just rejected SB 35 by a vote of 23-30. You can view the SB 35 vote by clicking here.
The Senate also rejected SB 1 by a vote of 29-22 (30 votes are needed to pass), but the bill could be reconsidered for a new vote. Your calls matter! Call 888-412-6570.
The Illinois legislature considered a variety of pension-related measures in committees and on the floor last week. Some bills have the coalition's support -- such as SB 2404 and HB 3162 -- and will receive hearings this Wednesday and Thursday. However, others would unjustly and illegally cut the hard-earned benefits of public employees and retirees -- such as SB 35/HB 3411, SB 1, HB 1154, and HB 1166.
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Read on for a full update!
The Senate Executive Committee voted out two pension-cutting bills on March 13 -- SB 35 and SB 1. These bills now move to the Senate floor, where they could be called for a full Senate vote at any time. In positive news, a subcommittee of the Senate Executive Committee approved the coalition-supported bill, SB 2404. It will be heard by the full Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday, March 20. A summary of these three bills follows:
SB 35 is opposed by the coalition. (SB 35, also called the "Nekritz-Biss-Cross" or "NBC" bill, is virtually identical to HB 3411.) The bills would freeze COLAs and cap them at very low levels, increase retirement ages, and increase employee contributions without an ironclad funding guarantee from the state. Further, the bills would force new hires in TRS and SURS into a 401(k)-hybrid retirement account. That means half of these individuals' retirement security would be directly exposed to the risks of the market, even though participants in TRS and SURS are not eligible for Social Security. The Senate rejected SB 35 by a vote of 23-30, with four voting present. You can view the SB 35 vote by clicking here. HB 3411 was approved by House committee and could be called for a full House floor vote at any time.
SB 1 is opposed by the coalition. It consists of two parts. Part A contains almost all of the provisions mentioned above as SB 35. If Part A is found unconstitutional, Part B goes into effect. Under Part B, workers and retirees would be forced to choose between (1) a COLA that would reduce a pension's value by one-third after twenty years or (2) no access to health care in retirement. The Senate rejected SB 1 by a vote of 29-22 (30 votes are needed to pass), but the bill could be reconsidered for a new vote.
SB 2404 is supported by the coalition. It contains an ironclad funding guarantee, dedicated revenue to pay down the state's pension debt, and shared sacrifice. Retirees would not be impacted. You can read more about it by clicking this link. SB 2404 was approved by subcommittee and will be heard in full Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday, March 20, at 3 p.m.
SB 35 and SB 1 are unfair to public servants who faithfully paid into the pension systems, even as the state skimped on or skipped payments. Further, the coalition believes SB 35 and SB 1 are unconstitutional and will be overturned by the courts -- kicking the can down the road and worsening Illinois' fiscal problems. Alternatively, SB 2404 is a fair, constitutional way to address the state's chronic pension underfunding.
Urge your state senators to oppose SB 35 and SB 1 and support SB 2404 instead.
While an amendment to increase employee contributions by 3% failed to pass last week, the House did pass two pension-cutting bills, outlined below. The bills now move to the Senate:
HB 1154 puts a cap on the amount of salary that qualifies for a pension. The vote was 100-16 and is available to view by clicking here. (Rep. Pritchard switched from a "yes" to a "no.") HB 1154 was approved by the full House and now awaits Senate action.
HB 1166 increases retirement ages anywhere from one to five years. (Employees under age 35 would face a five-year increase, employees between age 35 and 40 would face a three-year increase, and employees between age 40 and 45 would face a one-year increase.) The vote was 72-45 and is available to view by clicking here. (Reps. Hoffman, Jackson, Lilly, and Sims switched from a "yes" to a "no.") HB 1166 was approved by the full House and now awaits Senate action.
On Thursday, the House will be considering House Amendment 6 to HB 1165, which caps and freezes COLAs, reducing their value by one-third.
The issues covered in HB 1154, HB 1166, and HB 1165 are parts of a larger bill -- HB 3411, which is virtually identical to SB 35 (described earlier in this post). HB 3411 was approved by House committee and could be called for a full House floor vote at any time.
The coalition supports HB 3162, which is identical to SB 2404 (described earlier in this post). Urge your House legislators to oppose HB 3411 and its components and support HB 3162. HB 3162 will be heard on Thursday, March 21, in House Personnel and Pensions Committee.
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