I watched and listened to the 98th Illinois General Assembly today: the invocations and the reciting and signing of the Oath of Office by the collective members of the House of Representatives to “solemnly swear [… to] support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and [to] faithfully discharge the duties of the office…to the best of [their] ability" (Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois).
I listened to the speeches re-nominating Michael Madigan as Speaker of the House by five sycophantic members of the House of Representatives. I listened to their gushing platitudes and absurd hyperboles, and to the polite applause that followed.
I listened to the speeches nominating Tom Cross for Speaker of the House by four other representatives: three members who uttered more clichés and exaggerations, and one who pleaded for an end to the House’s political despotism.
I listened to the re-nominated House Speaker Michael Madigan’s acknowledgement of a few of his cronies and to his speech that reminded the audience about recent major legislations and his personal initiatives. I listened to his assessments about worker compensation and the move toward privatization; I listened to his description about the fiscal situation in Illinois (“the pension issue”), that there will be a change in promises made, and that the shift in the normal costs to school districts has to be addressed. “I think we have done much,” he said proudly.
I listened to House Minority Leader Tom Cross’s personal frivolities about the “challenges” of the State of Illinois. I listened to his digressions about “family values.” I listened to his skewed and fallacious information about pensions and to his adulations for so-called experts in the House that new representatives should seek for counsel, and I thought about what was intentionally omitted in all of these speeches and their disingenuous, political unintelligibility.
I listened to the last recited prayer about Solomon’s wisdom and knowledge and supplication to God for the Illinois House of Representatives. My only response to such an incredulous fiasco is what an egregious hypocrisy and shameful irony! --Glen Brown
Illinois Association of School Administrators
"In short, Senate Bill 1 has two parts: Part A is essentially the Nekritz-Biss-Cross bill that failed to be called for a vote during the lame-duck session that ended Tuesday, while Part B is the Senate's so-called "choice" plan to be used as a constitutional backstop to take effect in case all or parts of Part A are ruled unconstitutional.
- The pensionable salary cap set at the higher of an employee's salary when the bill is signed or the Social Security cap ($113,700)
- An increase in employee contributions of 2 percent over a two-year period
- A four-year freeze - as opposed to the six-year freeze from a previous proposal -- on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and when the COLA resumes not paying it until a retiree reaches age 67 and then allowing the 3 percent compound COLA only on the first $25,000, the first $20,000 for retirees who also receive Social Security
- A requirement to fully fund the state's pension systems by 2043
- A stronger guarantee that the state will make its required payments to the pension system
- The provision requiring employees and retirees to choose between the compound COLA or accepting a reduced COLA but having access to the state's health care plan and being able to count future salary increases for pension benefits.
"The Nekritz-Biss-Cross portion of SB 1 does not include the cost-shift provision, but Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) has said she will be adding that back into the legislation after having removed it in the lame-duck session in a failed attempt to garner enough votes to pass the bill and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) reiterated his support for the cost shift Wednesday, calling the current situation a "free lunch" for downstate schools.
"Where SB 1 or any pension reform legislation will go this spring remains anyone's guess, but it seems certain to once again occupy center stage at the state capitol.
[Do you believe any legislator is going to read the 402-page bill (including its index) before voting on it?]