Friday, May 17, 2013

Beware of the Trojan Horse that is SB 2404












Senator John Cullerton filed Senate Amendment 002 to Senate Bill 2404 on May 8, 2013:

“…Eligible Tier I employees and eligible Tier I retirees may be required to make contributions toward the cost of coverage under a program of health benefits. The vested and enforceable contractual right to a program of health benefits is NOT offered as, and shall NOT be considered, a pension or retirement benefit under Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, the Illinois Pension Code, or any subsequent or successor enactment providing pension benefits…

“The Department shall coordinate with each retirement system administering an election in accordance with this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly to provide information concerning the impact of the election of health benefits. Each System shall include information prepared by the Department in the required election packet…

“The information in the election packet shall include a notice that states: YOU ARE HEREBY ADVISED THAT THE PROGRAM OF HEALTH BENEFITS OFFERED IS FOR ACCESS TO A GROUP HEALTHCARE PLAN ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT, AND YOU MAY BE REQUIRED TO PAY FOR THE FULL COST OF COVERAGE PROVIDED BY THE PLAN, INCLUDING ALL PREMIUM, DEDUCTIBLE, AND COPAY AMOUNT.’” [You are simply making a choice to diminish your constitutional benefits and rights. You will also be paying for your own healthcare].

The aforementioned quotations are from Senate Amendment 002 to Senate Bill 2404, pages 15-16.

Of Special Note:
[The health care option should be written into the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/) to be considered a “benefit” protected by the Illinois Constitution. In this way, consideration would create a contractual cause of action for the full enforcement of that expectation – an irrevocable binding contract between the state (legislators) and public employees]. 

Regarding the current teachers 1% contribution to the Teachers Health Insurance Security: if a teacher chooses to keep his or her constitutional benefit (compounded COLA) instead of the precarious "access" to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program, “There would NOT be a refund [for any past contributions], but a person would no longer contribute” –Cinda Klickna, IEA president.

It’s a lesson in semantics:
Though there are thousands of retirees across the state who will sink deeply into abject poverty without their compounded COLA, partially-paid-for health care or both, Cullerton and the Coalition of Unions are offering a choice for us to keep our compounded COLA, which is already constitutionally guaranteed or diminish this benefit voluntarily for “access” to a state health care program (that is under payment revision), and one that we will most likely have to fully subsidize before long. What should help alleviate our anxiety about this Machiavellian/Orwellian choice is the IEA stated they “would fight to protect the health insurance benefits of [its] members.” Now, don’t we feel much better now?

"It is safe to say that [the aforementioned] amendment [002] was revealed in committee, was discussed by Senate President John Cullerton, and was pushed by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and Civic Federation" –Gary Elmen, president of the IRTA.

from IRTA Today:
The IRTA continues to oppose both SB1 and SB2404. SB2404 requires retired educators to choose between two options:

Retired Option 1:
  • The TRS COLA would continue to be 3 percent compounded annually calculated from the member’s current pension.
  • A staggered automatic two year forfeiture of the member’s COLA after the effective date of the bill.
  • Access to state health insurance with the possibility of paying 100% of the premium. 
Retired Option 2:
  • The TRS COLA would continue to be 3 percent compounded annually calculated from the member’s current pension.
  • No access to state health insurance. 

A quotation and reiteration for us to contemplate:
“The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: your victims feel they are in control but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma… Such is the power of giving people a choice, or rather the illusion of one, for they are playing with cards you have dealt them… For people who are choosing between alternatives find it hard to believe they are being manipulated or deceived; they cannot see that you are allowing them a small amount of free will in exchange for a much more powerful imposition of your own will” (Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power).



6 comments:

  1. Has anyone asked Cinda to call off the robocalls to teachers to support SB2404? Will she deign to order robocalls to tell teachers to NOT support SB2404?
    When will she start behaving as though she is on the side of Illinois teachers and retirees?
    -Ken Previti

    ReplyDelete
  2. They can maintain control through a constant state of fear and taking. Dystopian.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And today is the first day I saw in writing that we might be responsible for up to 100% of the premiums.
    Up to now it's been announced that health benefits would actually be "guaranteed" by the Constitution with the passage of SB2404.
    Are these little "chippings" going to continue? Is this the way we'll be told about the further downsides of SB2404?

    ReplyDelete
  4. And as I'm typing my two words to prove I'm not a robot, I see that my second word is "sacrifice".....

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved Rep. Lou Lang's response to the "reformers" and the propaganda vehicle some refer to as The Chicago Tribune. I wish coalition leaders would spend more time working with him and the other reasonable leaders who obviously understand ALL sides of the pension issue.

    I am retired now so I can't do anything on this, but I'd love to see active IEA members pay very close attention in the future to how their IEA dues/IPACE contributions are used in political funding of candidates. It makes me furious to think that some of those "reformers" were re-elected thanks to the gift of some of my hard-earned dollars.

    If I only knew then what I know now.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "The vested and enforceable contractual right to a program of health benefits is NOT offered as, and shall NOT be considered, a pension or retirement benefit under Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, the Illinois Pension Code, or any subsequent or successor enactment providing pension benefits…": This was proven false in July, 2014 with the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Kanerva v. Weems.

    ReplyDelete