After several days of delay and uncertainty, Senate Bill 512, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cross, passed out of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee today, by a vote of 6-2-1, despite strong testimony in opposition from multiple labor leaders including IFT President Dan Montgomery. The bill now moves to the House floor. The earliest it could be voted on is Friday, May 27th, 2011.
If this legislation passes it will likely offer three choices for participation in the plans going forward (all benefits earned to date would be unaffected):
Option 1: Stay in the current tier 1 plan but pay 50% or more in contributions.
Option 2: Go into a tier 2 plan for new hires that puts retirement age at 67, lowers benefits and decimates annual Cost Of Living Adjustments (COLA), or
Option 3: Go into a 401k defined contribution plan that freezes current pension credits and relies on the volatile stock market.
Whether you are an educator, paraprofessional, state employee or other public servant, when you entered your career you made a commitment to the state and the students or citizens you serve. You dedicated yourself to improving the quality of life and providing a brighter future for all Illinoisans. In return, the state promised to provide you with a modest pension after a lifetime of public service.
You have faithfully paid into the pension system and kept your promise to serve our state. But now some lawmakers in Springfield want to break their promise. They are attacking your hard-earned pension and trying to diminish your benefits, even though legal experts have called it unconstitutional.
We must not let that happen. Lawmakers must do the right thing and honor their contract to provide fair retirement benefits to all public employees. Tell them to vote "No" on SB 512 or any other legislation that cuts or dimishes public pensions.