Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Response to Tom White’s Post on October 26 by Bob Lyons, TRS Trustee

I consider Tom White a friend, and we have often agreed on pension issues. However, I was confused when he stated that Executive Director Dick Ingram had tried to convince TRS trustees that we need to follow ERISA standards. As Tom White knows, TRS is not governed by ERISA but by the Illinois Pension Code. ERISA covers private pensions and not public pensions.

Tom White’s point is that Executive Director Ingram and the TRS trustees should do everything they can to protect the pension fund and the benefits of the members. That is truly our goal as well. Nevertheless, TRS would be required to administer whatever law may be passed, and TRS lacks the authority to determine whether a law is constitutional or unconstitutional beforehand. There is no basis for taking the State of Illinois to court before a law is passed. Furthermore, it would be up to the courts and not TRS to determine the outcome.

As for Tom White’s claim that TRS has been infiltrated by a “Civic Committee/Civic Federation mole,” while I doubt anything I may say will change his opinion, I disagree. Executive Director Ingram is committed to protect and to increase the pension fund’s assets.

No matter what the press has done with Ingram’s ill-chosen remarks, the position of the TRS Board is that the State of Illinois should pay its annuitants what it owes them and that any attempt to solve the debt problem should be constitutional. In this regard, Tom White and I are in complete agreement. As he pointed out, the individual members of TRS Board and the officers of the System have all signed an oath to that effect.

I am glad that Tom White and so many others are committed to making sure the Executive Director and the trustees do the right thing for all of its annuitants. Their vigilance can only help the System.

Bob Lyons
Elected Retired Annuitant
TRS Board

Tom White's Article:

1 comment:

  1. Bob's comments raise an interesting issue for me. If what he says is true - that TRS, and the TRS board, would be required to administer what ever law may be passed (and I believe it is true) - then we might very well have the situation where the President of the IEA would be administering COLA cuts to members of her own union, if that is what the legislature ends up demanding. To those who deny a conflict of interest when it comes to having the President of the IEA sitting on the board of trustees - what will you say then?