Friday, March 3, 2017

Legislative Update (from the IRTA)





The 100th General Assembly was brought to order in Springfield on January 11, 2017 with the inauguration of new legislators.  There are a combined 32 new members of the General Assembly this year.

Since inauguration day, there have been over 2000 bills filed in the Senate and nearly 4000 bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives. There are over 40 bills dealing with the TRS pension system this year, not including shell bills that can be amended at a later date with language that would address public employee pensions.

There are a number of bills being proposed that would create some form of Tier 3 pension system by putting all new workers into a 401(k) style program or that would create a defined contribution plan versus the defined benefit plan teachers have now. Others would allow for the accelerated payment or a buyout of ones’ pension.  There is legislation that would try to combat teacher shortages by increasing the number of hours one could return to work. And, still other measures concern the transfer of pension costs from the state to local school districts at the same time the Governor is calling for a property tax freeze.

The IRTA is also watching measures that concerns prompt payments for health care costs.  This would require the state paying up to an eight percent interest penalty if payments are over a specified number of days late.  The concern comes from not yet knowing if those funds would come from the state or TRS.  The IRTA is against using TRS funds to pay those interest payments.

Current Legislation supported by the IRTA:

·         House Bill 751 allowing retirees to return to work in subject shortage areas
·         House Resolution 29 and Senate Resolution 113 both urging their chambers not to tax retirement income

Current Legislation Opposed by the IRTA:

·         House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 18* which calls for repealing the pension protection clause in the Illinois Constitution
·         House Bill 2759 would suspend an annuitants pension if they return to work regardless of the hours worked
·         House Bill 3021 would allow temporary staffing firms to contract with school districts to provide substitute teachers for elementary and secondary public schools

The Senate has also been working on a package of bills “the Grand Bargain” that would put measures in place that would pave the way for the passage of a budget, something Illinois has gone without for over 21 months.

Although some of these measures have been passed, the Senate Republicans have put a stop to voting for any additional measures in this package for the time being.

Of the 12-piece bill package, those that have passed the Senate include:

·         Local Government Consolidation (SB 3)
·         $215 MILLION FOR Chicago Teachers’ Pension (SB 5)
·         Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations for state agencies (SB 6)
·         Gaming legislation that would add 6 casinos, slots at tracks, slots at O’Hare Airport and slots at motor speedways (SB 7)
·         Procurement reform to save the state money on purchasing (SB 8)

The measures still waiting for a vote, and now it seems have been put on hold indefinitely include:

·         SB 1 – Education Funding Reform
·         SB 4 – Debt Restructuring
·         SB 9 – Tax Increase (4.99% personal and 7% corporate plus increasing   taxes on services)
·         SB 10 – Allows cities to borrow more for less
·         SB 12 – Workers Compensation Reform
·         SB 13 – Property Tax Freeze
·         SB 16 – Pension Reform

The final piece originally part of the proposal but now removed from the package is minimum wage increase (SB 2). The reason the package of bills is on hold currently is because if one of these proposals fails to pass both chambers all of the bills will fail based on language in all of these bills.  They are all tied together for better or worse.

In addition, Governor Rauner introduced his budget to the General Assembly on February 15, 2017. One of the most important aspects of this proposal for the IRTA was stating he would zero out funding for the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP).  He again urged enactment of legislation that provides for funding changes to TRS that would under fund the pension systems.  Once again kicking the can down the road for others to deal with in the future. 
Both the Senate and the House are in session next week so I will send out more information as it becomes available. The IRTA is and will continue working with legislators on your behalf.

Mary Shaw
Illinois Retired Teachers Association
Government Affairs Director


*(Sponsors for Repealing the Pension Protection Clause:  

sosnowski (217-782-0548, 815-547-3436)
ives (217-558-1037, 630-384-9719) 

morrison (217-782-8026, 847-202-6584)
skillicorn (217-782-0432, 815-893-4884)
long (217-782-0140, 815-510-9689)
spain (217-782-8108, 309-690-7373) 

andersson (217-782-5457, 630-457-5460) 

phillips (217-558-1040, 217-348-1110)
wehrli (217-782-6507, 630-696-4160)



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