October 25, 2011

Senate Bill 512 May be Resurrected

HALTED IN the spring, Senate Bill 512 would require current employees to choose among three retirement plans. They could stay in the current plan, but contribute more to it; they could choose to participate in the second-tier plan that has reduced benefits; or they could participate in a new 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

IN A joint press release last spring from House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), it was stated that the proponents still supported the concepts of the SB512 and planned to hold meetings over the summer in order to have a bill ready for the fall Veto Session beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25. Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) believes the bill to be unconstitutional, however.

THE ORIGINAL provisions of SB512, if enacted, would either increase employee pension contributions without an increase in benefits, reduce employee contributions and decrease benefits, or move employees from a defined benefit plan (your monthly pension payout is guaranteed) to a defined contribution plan (your monthly pension payout is not guaranteed).

PRESIDENT MICHAEL Hogan testified against SB512 last spring, stating that it would harm the University irreparably in terms of our ability to recruit and retain employees.

APAC HAS continued to actively oppose the legislation. It has compiled more than 1,200 comments on pension reform submitted by Illinois voters in response to the original provisions of Senate Bill 512, and has distributed the comments to all State Senators and House Representatives associated with the bill--along with the message “these provisions would harm us irreparably, impairing our State institutions’ ability to recruit and retain high caliber employees.”

AS CITIZENS of the State of Illinois, University employees may contact your State Representatives and State Senators directly, although not via a University phone. Let them know what you think about pension reform. You do not have to be an expert on Illinois politics to call. You can search for your district officials by clicking http://www.elections.il.gov/districtlocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByZip.aspx.

NIU TODAY, a Northern Illinois University publication, wrote a plain language article that provides more information: http://www.niutoday.info/2011/10/04/pension-issues-likely-to-resurface-in-veto-session/.

THE STATE Universities Retirement System (SURS) has a webpage devoted to pending legislation: http://www.surs.com/shepherd.surs?flk=Legal&shp=63.

ACTUARIAL FIRM Buck Associates says SB512 could cost taxpayers $34 billion more and urged lawmakers not to adopt it. See http://finance.alphatrade.com/story/2011-10-19/MRW/201110191514MRKTWIREUSPR____0811413.html.

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