Gov. Quinn says online ‘grassroots campaign’ will help pension problem

2012-09-08T20:23:00Z Gov. Quinn says online ‘grassroots campaign’ will help pension problemBy Ryan Voyles | ryan.voyles@lee.net pantagraph.com
September 08, 2012 8:23 pm  • 

DECATUR — Electronic democracy is the way to go for Illinois to solve its pension crisis, according to Gov. Pat Quinn.

The governor shed some light on his so-called grassroots campaign to reform the state’s pension system at a Saturday morning stop in Decatur that was unrelated to his visit to unveil “The Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit at the Decatur Public Library.

While details remain vague, Quinn said he hopes to use the Internet and social media to inform people on the issue and to rally people to contact their lawmakers.

“Having the power of the Internet … is a good way to get the message across on what we have to do for the public,” he said.

Lawmakers and Quinn have been searching for a way to address the more than $83 billion in unfunded liability in the retirement systems affecting state workers, teachers, university workers, members of the General Assembly and judges.

A special session was held in Springfield last month to pass some pension reform, but both the House and Senate left the capitol without passing any measures to address the problem. Quinn responded by saying he would activate a grassroots effort to raise awareness about Illinois’ pension problem.

Quinn said he will be meeting with legislative leaders within the next two weeks to lay groundwork for pension reform before he moves on with the campaign.

Grassroots background

The governor has a long history of grassroots efforts, including his successful 1980 statewide campaign to reduce the number of lawmakers from 177 to its current 118.

While lawmakers already hear from their constituents, Quinn hopes his campaign can create a unified voice among citizens to lobby for reform.

“I think this will better channel public sentiment and energy into a common movement,” he said. “We have to do that here.”

Lawmakers are not scheduled to meet again until after the November elections, where reform measures could be passed during the lame-duck session.

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(4) Comments

  1. Al Moncrief
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    Al Moncrief - September 10, 2012 3:42 pm
    WHY HAVE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS NOT SUPPORTED THE BREACH OF FULLY-VESTED PENSION CONTRACTS LIKE COLORADO PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS?

    PROOF THAT COLORADO’S GOVERNMENT LIES: COLORADO PERA’S ATTEMPT TO TAKE CONTRACTED RETIREE BENEFITS.

    When I was young I held the belief that public service in the United States is honorable, that the United States of America was exceptional in the world, that governments in the United States, while flawed, deserved the respect of citizens.

    Now that I am old, I see that I was naive . . . that governmental entities in the United States will intentionally deceive to achieve their goals, and that over two centuries our soldiers have died for a country that will countenance, and even celebrate, base behavior on the part of its public sector instrumentalities. It saddens me, but if this state of affairs persists in the United States . . . Honor is dead.

    Some background . . .

    You may know that an entity of Colorado state government, Colorado PERA, is attempting to breach its public pension contracts with its retirees. Colorado PERA is attempting a retroactive taking, a “clawback” of accrued, fully-vested pension benefits that were earned by retired PERA members over decades.

    Colorado PERA public pension benefits include a “base benefit” that is set at retirement and a “COLA benefit” that adjusts pensions annually to compensate for inflation. The “base benefit” and the “COLA benefit” are set forth in Colorado statutes with identical force of law and legal status.

    In its attempt to breach retiree contracts Colorado PERA has created a contrivance. The contrivance that Colorado PERA is using is that somehow the “base benefit” is a contractual obligation, but the “COLA benefit” is not a contractual obligation, in spite of the fact that both pension benefits are set forth in law in an identical manner. What this boils down to is attempted, unabashed, theft by government.

    Whether or not Colorado PERA’s attempt to take fully-vested public pension benefits from PERA retirees is ultimately successful in the courts, one fact has been incontrovertibly established . . . Colorado PERA, as an instrumentality of the State of Colorado, is an organization that will lie to achieve its policy goals.

    This is a sad fact for the many employees of Colorado PERA, for the trustees that have served on the Colorado PERA Board of Trustees over 80 years, and for the thousands of PERA members and retirees.

    And now, the proof of the deceit . . .

    Colorado PERA has told us, in writing, that the PERA COLA benefit IS a contractual obligation of PERA . . . and then, after initiating their attempt to breach contracts, Colorado PERA has told us, in writing, that the PERA COLA benefit IS NOT a contractual obligation of PERA. Both of these statements cannot be true.

    Colorado PERA in a written document, to the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee on December 16, 2009 states that the PERA COLA benefit IS a contractual obligation of PERA:

    “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

    Link:

    http://www.kentlambert.com/Files/PERA_JBC_Hearing_Responses-12-16-2009_Final.pdf

    Colorado PERA on page 23 of its May 6, 2011 “Reply Brief” in the pension case Justus v. State states that the PERA COLA benefit IS NOT a contractual obligation of PERA:

    “Plaintiffs seek to create a contract right that has never existed—an unchangeable COLA for life triggered (inconsistently) by either the date of their retirement or ‘full vesting.’”

    Link:

    http://saveperacola.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/2011-05-06-pera-defendants_-reply-in-support-of-summary-judgment.pdf

    That is simply unbelievable.

    In one document PERA writes "the contract right has never existed." In the other they write that the COLA benefit is a contractual obligation protected under the Colorado and US constitutions.

    When PERA writes that they need "actuarial necessity" to take the COLA benefit, they are not denying that it is a contractual obligation, in fact, it is an admission of the contractual nature of the COLA benefit.

    For further information regarding Colorado PERA’s attempt to take fully-vested pension benefits from retirees visit saveperacola.com or Friend Save Pera Cola on Facebook.
  2. 2tired
    Report Abuse
    2tired - September 09, 2012 9:39 am
    the internet will not fix anything, the only way to fix Illinios pension issue is get these bums out of office and elect people that will make the hard choices. Put term limits on these clowns so they stop worring about reelection and worry what is best for Illinois. How they have ran Illinois for the past 10 years all of them, no matter what party their in should be put in jail. You read about CEO CFO going to jail all the time for doing the exact same thing Illinios government is doing. What gives Illinios elected official the right?
  3. annieoakley
    Report Abuse
    annieoakley - September 09, 2012 9:33 am
    The problem we have is NOBODY gives two hoots about the problem! They keep re-electing the same people and as long as they get what they want, it will never change. Illinois is done. I do not understand how the country knows about Chicago and that Illinois is corrupt how they can elect someone from Chicago to lead the United States. Now that corruption is in the white house and it is destroying our country economically and socially! Our once allies are holding their breathe to see what happens in this election. Chicago politics have taken over the country so I don't have to hold my breathe, i know whats coming.
  4. Stormin' Norman
    Report Abuse
    Stormin' Norman - September 08, 2012 10:32 pm
    This state's system has been too corrupted to mend. The only option now is moving away...
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