Thursday, May 31, 2012

FORBES: "Three Hard Lessons from Illinois Public Pension Reform"

I've been reading a lot about the gutting of the Illinois pension (my head hurts!). When I arrived here in 1995, I saw there was a constitutional guarantee and Madigan (who was there at the Con Con in 1970) said that the guarantee was "ironclad."

Flash forward to 2011. Unions occupying Wisconsin's assembly, Wisconsin Democrats fleeing the state -- it is a "fight to the death."

Then 2012, the Democrats' turn in Illinois. No occupation of the assembly. The unions will continue to get their members' dues--unthreatened by Madigan--and say "we will take this to court." If Wisconsin was a heat index at the level of 100 out 100, the heat from IEA, AFSCME, et al. is registering closer to 3-5.

(Yes, I know the differences between the issues in Wisconsin and Illinois but the pension reform in Illinois is arguably far worse. Besides, it is a matter of registering a reaction proportionate to the threat. I just can't take the IEA seriously any longer).

But enough useless ranting. One of the best pieces on the lessons learned this year is from Forbes. I encourage readers to pore over it. The root problem is "you can't sue the bastards" if the SOBs are in government, Yes, there will be lawsuits. Yes, they might win on one or two issues (I doubt). But we are living in the Clintonesque world of "what is 'diminish' or 'impair'?

And what about taking away benefits so major that you indirectly diminish the pension "guarantee"? They call this political action "crosscutting requirement." Think of the federal government forcing all states to adhere to a drinking age of 18. Ultimately, it is up to the states to write their own laws but Uncle Sam says "you may write your own laws but we take away highway funds. . . "

So keep your pension but lose retiree health care and future pension raises don't count toward retirement formula. (The latter is really beyond belief: if you are in your 3d year working for Illinois, then your final retirement formula is based not on the next 35 years of raises--including built-in inflation--but on a salary you earned 35 years earlier?!).

Democracy (small "d") is broken. More important, rule of law is gone, baby, gone. Welcome to post-constitutional America.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Capitol Fax: Blogger and Journalist Rich Miller Roasted

If you want to keep up on Illinois news--the Springfield loop, especially--Rich Miller's is "must reading." As an indication of his prominence, the Illinois political elite roasted Miller on his 50th birthday.

To keep up on pensions and all the other news in Illinois, read