Dear IRTA Members,
As the leading advocate for Illinois retired educators, the IRTA continues to fight to preserve your benefits. Protecting your benefits is our number one mission. That is what we do! We are a proud, strong organization that exemplifies purpose and integrity and working together; we can accomplish anything!
This determination has been demonstrated the past year with our successful challenge in Circuit Court to the unconstitutional legislation known as SB 1. This law, passed in late 2013, would have reduced our COLA and our overall pension benefit by a considerable amount.
For example, consider a retired teacher who had 30 years of service credit and draws a pension of $50,000, which is slightly higher than the average teacher pension. The retiree receives an increase in January of $1500. [3% of 50,000]. Under SB 1, in year one, the retiree would receive $900. [30 yrs. x 1000 x 3%]. This is a $600 reduction in benefits over one year.
If you consider a reduced compounded COLA, you would continue to see a greater reduction year after year. The current COLA is worth the fight! Moreover, if legislators can violate their oath to uphold the constitution on this issue, what issue will be next?
We have won the battle in Circuit Court, but the process continues with a state appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. We are uncertain how long this case will take to resolve. Even though we are confident of the outcome, the expense for legal fees continues to grow.
As the old adage says, you get what you pay for. Our legal defense team is one of the best in the country. They have the background and knowledge of constitutional law that is necessary to ensure the state is not successful in stealing our pensions. We must maintain our Legal Defense Fund to pay for this action as well as any future action that will no doubt occur after SB 1 is found unconstitutional.
Through the generosity of you, our members, we have collected almost $400,000 for the Legal Defense Fund, and for that we thank you. However, the expense is so great that the fund balance is now below $100,000. We must continue to contribute to this effort. We cannot afford not to. None of us alone could afford this legal fight, but collectively we are strong and we will prevail.
Any donation, large or small, is appreciated. A suggested contribution is to compare your take-home pension amount [net] for January 2015 to your take-home amount [net] in February 2015. This is your monthly increase provided by your COLA and demonstrates the value of the 3% compounded annual benefit. We are recommending one month's increase as your contribution.
Thank you for your support. Please send your donation to IRTA, 620 N Walnut St., Springfield IL 62702. Checks should be made payable to the IRTA Legal Defense Fund, or you can go to the IRTA web-site home page and look under IRTA Events to donate online.
Thank you again!
Bob Pinkerton, IRTA President
To donate to the Legal Defense Fund
Please make your check payable to IRTA and write "Legal Defense Fund" on the check memo line.
Donations to the Legal Defense Fund can be mailed to 620 N. Walnut St. Springfield, IL 62702.
The IRTA hired Gino L. DiVito, John M. Fitzgerald, and Katherine M. O’Brien of Tabet, DiVito & Rothstein LLC.
To revisit Constitutional Issues Concerning Senate Bill 2404, Click Here.