Wednesday, February 22, 2012

University state budget news good so far

The Southern has a quick story on Quinn's budget address, with reactions from Cheng and Poshard. The news here re the overall budget is good (i.e., Quinn does not advocate cuts to the higher ed budget), and includes plans to increase funding for MAP grants. But there are lingering concerns about pensions, in two senses: employees may be asked to pay more, and employers (i.e., the university) might be asked to pay more, which would mean less money was available for other things. Of course the final budget approved by the legislature may differ greatly. But the reaction to Quinn's message from the democratic leaders of the legislature was warmer than last year, at least according to the Chicago Tribune article, which including the following interesting bit from Senate President John Cullerton:
Cullerton called it time to “take the next leap forward in comprehensive pension reforms that control costs while preserving the constitutional rights of current employees and retirees.”

“Unlike Indiana and Wisconsin, we intend to work with unions to accomplish this goal,” Cullerton said.
There is of course plenty of bad news in this budget plan as well, including closures of several downstate facilities. Quinn, though, is obviously making education, including higher education, a priority, for which those of us in that line of work should be thankful.


  1. We are not out of the woods yet concerning pension reform since Quinn is merely passing the buck to a committee that will report by April 17. Michael Madigan was also quoted after the speech by saying that recipients will have to decide to accept cuts in benefits or lose the system entirely. He is in league with someone in the Chicago business community who opposes state worker pensions. Make no mistake. The political football will continue and Quinn is hedging his bets for the next election by making sure that he will have no responsibility for a decision made by a committee that may drastically reduce benefits for those who have honestly contributed while politicians have plundered the system and blown the money like drunken sailors. We may end up with a pension system that is not even worth its name.

  2. I agree, by the way, though I can certainly see why you felt you needed to add this warning. Our pensions are already well below the level of our peers (by something like 5%), so further cuts would indeed reduce them to a level no better than social security--i.e., our pensions will be no better than what you'd get from working at Walmart. For of course we don't pay into Social Security (nor does the state, as our employer, on our behalf), so we won't be eligible for social security for the years we work of Illinois. And our eligibility for social security from other work is also limited by our time spent outside of the system (i.e., even if one would be eligible for social security due to previous or subsequent work, one will get less than one would have thanks to the years off the wagon working for Illinois).

  3. You can't sue the state, can't prosecute it for fiduciary misconduct, etc. So we are screwed when the one leading Democrat serious about the constitutional pension guarantee says this:

    “Unlike Indiana and Wisconsin, we intend to work with unions to accomplish this goal,” Cullerton said.

    Code: We are different here in Illinois, we divide and conquer, we spin, we maneuver and - hey - the "decades of mismanagement" never get laid at Madigan et al. so we get a pass in the media too!

    We've reached the point where this is a dysfunctional one party state (and the GOP isn't a viable alternative). Besides, we are a minority and voters don't care for us.

    We're screwed. Expect to work until 80. Stay in good health folks. . .

    Or try to escape this godforsaken land.

  4. I'd say the union will accept a deal where everyone above a certain age (55? 50?) is grandfathered and the rest pay more to support those already in - or to be in when they reach age 60.

    Welcome to kleptocracy. Constitution don't mean spit to Chigago pols.


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