Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another reason to be “Mad as Hell” in Illinois

Consider the New York State Teachers' Retirement System while thinking about the Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois:

To provide members with a secure pension.

To be the model for pension fund excellence...

The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) was established in 1921 by an act of the state legislature and is the second-largest of eight public retirement systems in New York State. NYSTRS administers the fund from which public school teachers and administrators employed outside New York City receive retirement and ancillary benefits.

NYSTRS directs a defined benefit plan... Payments to eligible members and beneficiaries are guaranteed by law and cannot be reduced under New York's current constitution... [Read this statement again].

NYSTRS Remains Financially Strong, Well-Funded

[NYSTRS] is one of the best-funded in the nation. More than 80% of benefits are paid to NY residents. The Retirement System’s investment portfolio returned 2.8% net of fees for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012 – in line with returns posted by peer pension funds. The 2.8% return followed 2011 and 2010 returns of 23.2% and 12.1%, respectively. The System’s funded ratio of 96.7% far exceeds the industry average of 75%, making NYSTRS one of the best-funded plans in the nation. [Compare the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois’ funded ratio at 42%.]

NYSTRS’ 25-year return of 8.5% remains higher than the assumed rate of 8%.
These figures and much more can be found in NYSTRS’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012…

“Like all public pension systems, NYSTRS is a long-term investor with liabilities not due for 30 years or more,” said NYSTRS Board President R. Michael Kraus… Also of critical importance to plan health, Kraus added, is the fact that NYSTRS receives required employer and employee contributions on time and in full. Financially troubled plans in other states cannot make the same claim. In these states, plans are struggling because of this lack of adequate funding. [Read the last two sentences again].

Other highlights… include:
  • …Net assets totaled $88.1 billion at June 30, 2012. (Net assets represent funds available to pay current and future benefits.) [What would the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois’ net assets be today if the liars and thieves of the Illinois General Assemblies and governors had not embezzled $15 billion? Furthermore, how much would that $15 billion investment have earned throughout the decades?]
  • …Fiscal year benefit payments totaled $5.9 billion. More than 80% of these benefits were paid to New York residents, whose spending is vital to the local, state and national economies. [How vital are the public employees to the Illinois local, state and national economies? The $3.1 billion in pensions and benefits paid to retired teachers and school administrators in Illinois during fiscal year 2012 created a sustained economic stimulus of approximately $4.432 billion that reached all 102 Illinois counties, according to a recent study conducted by the Teachers’ Retirement System.”]

“[Now] I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it and stick your head out and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’” like Howard Beale did in the film Network (1976).

Why should you be “Mad as Hell”?  Members of the Illinois General Assembly are attempting to steal even more money from your pension and to assault your constitutional rights and benefits.

Tell them to focus on the solutions for the state’s structural revenue deficit and pension debt: the problems past legislators have created and present legislators and the corporate media choose to ignore.

Tell them they need to establish a graduated income tax (HJRCA 0002), re-amortize the existing pension ramp, broaden the tax base, eliminate tax loopholes for “Tax Increment Financing Districts” and large corporations, increase taxation on the wealthy, and make the required payments to the pension systems instead of shifting the normal costs to school districts and colleges. In other words, honor contracts and pay the debts.

Remind them that “pension reform” violates both the State and U.S. Constitutions that all legislators have sworn to uphold; remind them that “pension reform” will hurt the working middle class, increase unemployment, and negatively impact the state’s economy.  Tell them how "MAD" you are, and that you WILL NOT vote for them in the next election.

"Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning. It is an end...; therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy" (Elie Wiesel).


  1. And ask legislators to sponsor legislation for a Speculation Sales Tax. In many countries it is called a Financial Transaction Tax or the Robin Hood tax. It is a small tax on every trade that is estimated to bring in six billion a year in Illinois. It would not require a change in the Illinois Constitution. It could be passed immediately. It is a tax that funds most governments in Asia and has recently been adopted in the European Union. In various forms it has existed in this country. We need to revive it in Illinois to fund our most basic services and the pension debt.

  2. here's what I get as an answer on the Robin Hood tax: "it will hurt the middle class--the little guy." And I say, "it won't hurt the little guy, he doesn't have enough stock for it to make a difference. So I think you're more worried about it taking a red nickel out of your pockets and those of your corporate sponsors."

  3. Financial Transaction Tax (FTT):

    “…What are the objections? Administrative cost and inconvenience? No, the FTT is easy to administer and difficult to evade. Clearing houses already review all trades and serve as collection agencies for transaction fees.

    “How about the threat of a move to another state or country to avoid new taxes? It's hard to imagine that from the CME Group, made up of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. From 2008 to 2010 the company had a profit margin higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation.

    “Big Revenues, Little Risk: Objections to the FTT seem superficial in light of the two main benefits:

    “(1) The massive revenue potential, and (2) the likelihood of limiting the speculative trading that contributed to the financial meltdown in 2008. Informed Americans are in agreement on this. The tax is simple and effective and fair and long-overdue and obvious to everyone except the business-friendly members of Congress.”

    For more information, read on this blog: The Insanity of Not Having a Financial Transaction Tax by Paul Buchheit (July 22, 2013)