Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Illinois Senator Michael Connelly

It is true many politicians do not concern themselves with the examination of evidence, the real causes of a state’s financial problems, and the best solutions for crucial issues. They are concerned about their party’s agenda, their reputation and re-election, and maintaining their power and influence in their communities. To accomplish this ruse, they like to use simplistic power-point slides at their town meetings that deliberately omit significant causal explanations for the state’s lack of revenue and pension debt that were the result of incompetent, irresponsible and corrupt politicians.

They like to cast the issue of teacher pensions, for instance, as an object of their bias to elicit mindless, hair-trigger responses from their supporters. They do not talk about how politicians have stolen public employees’ pension money over the decades to pay for the state’s needed services. They do not talk about the faulty back-loaded pension ramp that has increased the service debt to approximately twenty-five percent of the state’s budget.

Many politicians do not provide relevant and accurate scrutiny of the issues at town meetings because they prefer to use fallacious reasoning when alluding to their favorite scapegoat. They prefer to denigrate teachers’ pensions and cost-of living-adjustments instead through use of biased selected instances that falsely extrapolate a particular pension amount of one member to all group members. 

Indeed, many politicians have no qualms about hurting the lives of people who are not responsible for the state’s lack of revenue and pension debt because most politicians do not view their own conduct from a standpoint of values and interests of those they hurt. They do not want to talk about legal and moral ways to increase the state’s revenue. “We must have pension reform first before we restructure revenue,” they tell us.

Undoubtedly, as we have witnessed, they prefer to isolate and offer up the middle-class for hardship and create a dispossession by way of intentionally-diminishing laws when they tell us they support Governor Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda: a plan that advocates violating the Illinois Constitution once again through pension reform, a plan that creates so-called “empowerment zones” to diminish collective bargaining rights under the guise of “giving local communities a voice,” a plan that will allow municipalities to file for bankruptcy, a plan that will prohibit only labor organizations from making contributions to campaigns of office holders and ban union agency and fair share fees, a plan that will cut unemployment compensation and benefits for injured workers, a plan that will take six and one-half years to reach a $10 minimum wage for millions of workers while perpetuating special exceptions and windfalls for wealthy benefactors.

Many politicians do not care about what is legally and morally right. They do not care about obligations to others – about the fair distribution of the tax burden; about constitutional guarantees; about demanding more for public employees, retirees, and union workers as they are willing to demand for themselves and their wealthy accomplices. 

Unfortunately, this is the modus operandi of Michael Connelly and for many other politicians in Illinois. 

-Glen Brown


  1. John Dillon and I met with Senator Michael Connelly twice during the attempted breaking of public employees' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed contract. We also attended his town meetings. There was one particular meeting where I raised my hand to ask a question and make a comment. Connelly whispered in Representative Wehrli's ear. My hand was raised for approximately 10 minutes. They did not allow me to speak.

  2. Connelly sponsored SB 1763 which would "amend the General Assembly Article of the Illinois Pension Code and require active Tier 1 employees to elect either to (i) have automatic annual increases in retirement annuity and survivor's annuity delayed and reduced or (ii) maintain the current benefit package with additional limitations on pensionable salary..."

    He sponsored SB 2172 which would “create a defined contribution plan for all new annuitants, offer inactive members a buy-out option, and shift costs to local school districts.”

    He sponsored SB 2173 which would amend the General Assembly, State Employee, State Universities, Downstate Teacher, and Chicago Teacher Articles of the Illinois Pension Code and require active Tier 1 employees to elect either to (i) have automatic annual increases in retirement and survivor's annuities delayed and reduced or (ii) maintain their current benefit package with additional limitations on pensionable salary; [it would also] provide that a Tier 1 employee who elects item (i) is entitled to have future increases in income treated as pensionable income, have contributions reduced to a specified rate, and receive a consideration payment of 10% of contributions made prior to the election. [It would also] provide that a Tier 1 employee who elects item (ii) is not eligible to have future increases in income treated as pensionable income..."

    He also sponsored SR 1590 that states the belief that “the Illinois Constitution should not be amended to permit a graduated income tax."

  3. Connelly also voted to diminish and impair public employees' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed pension on December 2, 2013. He was one of 30 unethical Illinois senators. On May 8, 2015, it was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.

  4. On March 15, 2013, John Dillon and I met with Senator Michael Connelly (Naperville) and asked him to deliver a 542-page petition signed by 5,342 concerned citizens across Illinois to Senate President John Cullerton. (These citizens were asking legislators not to cut their earned and constitutionally-guaranteed benefits, but to find sources of revenue to pay what the State of Illinois owes its dedicated public employees and retirees). On March 19, 2013, I was apprised by Connelly’s secretary that he was "unable to complete the task." She said “he forgot” to bring the petition to Cullerton. John Dillon and I delivered it to Cullerton on March 21st.

  5. The IEA and IRTA support both Michael Connelly (Naperville) and Don Harmon (Oak Park) in the upcoming election?!

    From Bob Lyons:

    "I will be in Springfield next week and will ask [the IEA and IRTA why they recommended voting for these legislators]. Harmon was the leader for the 3% limit on pay increases [for teachers]."

  6. Jim Bachman's Response Why the IRTA endorsed Connelly and Harmon:

    "While it is obviously not possible to evaluate each and every comment from long term politicians, the PAC board tried to evaluate the voting records, when applicable, interactions with locals such as attending meetings when invited and answers to the questionnaires. We understand that individual members may not be excited about every endorsement, but we attempt to do the best with the information we have at the time. For these two endorsements we do not believe we were provided any information from the locals they represent. We also must consider likelihood of winning that each candidate has and the broader influence that each candidate possesses. For instance, Senator Harmon has great influence in the Senate, has no serious opponent and has a generally favorable voting record on issues of impact to the IRTA. Senator Connelly has many issues of concern in the past, but he is an influential member in a caucus that is generally not overly supportive of the IRTA. This makes his voice important in moderating the Senate Republicans. Furthermore, Connelly has shown considerable movement to be more in line with the IRTA. These issues ultimately were why the board made the decision it did."


    James Bachman

    IRTA Executive Director