March 24, 2014

March 2014 APAC News Vol. 7, No. 3

Ralph Martire of Center for Tax and Budget Accountability Proposes Pension Financing Solution

Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has proposed
a workable solution to the State’s pension financing problem.
By Neal Lorenzi

RALPH MARTIRE, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), has proposed a multi-year solution to the State’s pension financing problem that would replace the current 30-year full-funding plan with a 44-year payment plan. Essentially, he wants to refinance the pension “mortgage” to lower the annual payment. The Center is a bipartisan fiscal policy think tank based in Chicago.

MARTIRE’S PROPOSAL would “restructure” 90 percent of the $93 billion unfunded liability, or roughly $85 billion. All but ten percent of the unfunded liability would be paid off by 2057, through equal annual contributions from State government. Martire estimates the payment would be approximately $6.9 billion every year for 44 years.

CURRENTLY, STATE law requires the State government to pay off the pension systems’ unfunded liability by 2044 in annual contributions. These contributions, however, increase in size annually between 2013 and 2044. For the Teachers’ Retirement System, for example, the annual State contribution in 2014 is scheduled to be $3.4 billion, and will increase over the next 31 years to $9.31 billion.

LEGISLATORS OF both parties say that this continually rising “ramp” payment is too expensive and will be unaffordable in the future because it will re-direct money from other State budget priorities. The pension systems are left with just 40 percent of the funding they should currently have, which is well below the 80 percent generally deemed healthy for public systems.

“SIMPLY RE-AMORTIZING $85 billion of the unfunded liability into flat, annual debt payments of around $6.9 billion each through 2057 would solve the problem,” explained Martire. “After inflation, this new, flat, annual payment structure creates a financial obligation for the State that decreases in real terms over time, in place of the dramatically increasing structure under current law. Moreover, because some principal would be front-loaded, this re-amortization would cost taxpayers $35 billion less than current law. It solves the problem by dealing with the cause.”

THE CURRENT crisis, he added, is the direct result of a 1995 law intended to bring the retirement systems to 90 percent funding by 2045. That legislation so back-loaded the payment schedule that the unfunded liability will continue to grow until FY 2030, topping out at $133.4 billion, while the required annual State contribution will continue rising to reach $17.6 billion in 2045.

THE STATE’S fiscal system has a structural imbalance and therein lays the problem, according to Martire. Even in a normal economy, the system cannot keep pace with the cost of delivering the same level of services every year, much less meet a back-loaded repayment schedule for unfunded liability in a pension system. The fiscal structures needed to fund the current plan do not exist.

“THE CURRENT repayment structure is not a creature of actuarial assumptions or actuarial requirements but is purely a legal fiction the State imposed upon itself to kick the funding can down the road,” Martire said. “So, to solve the real problem that is creating pressure on the State’s fiscal system, the State has to re-amortize the debt repayment schedule or the fiscal pressure will not be alleviated.

“WE’VE GOT to live within an existing fiscal system and find a practical approach to solving this problem,” he added. “We still have to maintain the fiscal capacity to pay for State services as well as our other debt. Also, the State has to share its income tax revenue with local government.”

THE DEMANDS being made on the State fiscal system go well beyond paying for pensions, he added. The majority of the State’s money is used to pay for education, healthcare, and public safety.

MARTIRE URGES UIC employees to prevail upon their State representatives and State senators to do the right thing, which in this case is take a realistic approach to funding the pension system.

FOR MORE information about the CTBA, see

SUAA Sues Over Pension Changes

THE STATE Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) on behalf of its members and a group of active and retired University employees filed a lawsuit March 6 in Champaign County Circuit Court challenging Senate Bill 1, [PA 98 -599] which causes significant cuts to public pensions and affects State University and Community College employees who are paid through the State University Retirement System (SURS).

“WE WERE put in a position where our only course of action was to file this lawsuit, said Linda Brookhart, Executive Director of SUAA. We have a responsibility to represent the interest of our members and to also stand against a law we believe violates the Illinois Constitution in a variety of ways.

SUAA’s LAWSUIT challenges the changes to the pension code on the basis that they violate three different clauses of the Illinois Constitution. The suits claims Senate Bill 1 violates the Pension Clause (Article 13 Sec. 5), which forbids diminishment of pensions, the Takings Clause (Article 1 Sec. 15), which forbids taking of private property for public use without just compensation, and the Contracts Clause (Article 1 Sec. 16), which forbids the State to breach contracts that it makes. Several other lawsuits making similar arguments have also been filed across the State on behalf of public employees, but SURS members are different in some significant ways, according to SUAA.

SURS MEMBERS have the ability to choose one of three different retirement options, but once they choose a retirement option, they are locked into their retirement plan. By changing the rules governing the various SURS retirement plans, SUAA believes the State is in breach of contract.

ADDITIONALLY SURS members have the ability to buy years off their retirement. Senate Bill 1 increases the retirement age requirements, which mean SURS members who bought years back thinking they would retire at a certain age will have to work longer as a result, which SUAA believes is a breach of the agreement these employees had with the State.

“SURS MEMBERS make an irrevocable choice between different kinds of pension plans, and many pay more into the system to buy years, Brookhart said. When the State then changes the rules, it puts our folks in a trick box. We appreciate that other groups are fighting this law, but we have an obligation to ensure that those issues which are unique to current and retired employees of State universities and community colleges are fully presented.

THE CASE number is 2014MR207. A copy of the complaint is available upon request. SUAA is represented by John D. Carr and the Law Offices of Maduff & Maduff in Chicago,

APAC Elections Coming

THE DEADLINE for petitions to run for a seat on the Academic Professional Advisory Committee (APAC) is Monday, March 31.

APAC REPRESENTS more than 3,500 Academic Professionals on campus and advises University Administration, reviews policy, represents APs on search committees, voices concerns regarding APs to the Chancellor, and plays an active role in professional development efforts at UIC. APAC is comprised of 15-to-18 APs, elected for a three-year term. Approximately one-third of the APAC seats are up for election this year.

NOMINATION MATERIALS for APAC seats can be obtained by e-mailing Ahlam Al-Kodmany at Complete the nomination petition, including a personal statement and the name and signature of ten endorsers who are APs. Fully completed petitions must be received by noon on Monday, March 31. Send your completed packet for APAC to Ahlam Al-Kodmany, Institute for Health Research and Policy, MC 275. For information, e-mail

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 5175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is April 9 at a special time, noon, in Room 2750 of University Hall. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

Learn Facilitative Management

APAC WILL host a professional development workshop, Facilitative ManagementThe Art of Coaching Employees, on Thursday, March 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

SOME OF the most effective managers are those who coach their staff. These managers excel at empowering employees to create unique solutions by facilitating a dialogue that focuses on their employees’ strengths. The result is a strong buy-in from staff due to their personal investment. In this workshop, participants will learn what it means to manage as a coach, be introduced to some basic coaching skills and have an opportunity to practice those skills.

THIS WORKSHOP will be facilitated by Bob Kiser, a certified coach, mediator, and motivational speaker.  He received his certifications from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and the Center for Conflict Resolution. Besides his private practice, Kiser also serves as the Assistant Director of the Graham Clinical Performance Center in the Medical Education Department.

THIS EVENT will be held at the College of Medicine Research Building (COMRB), 909 S. Wolcott Ave., Room 8175 on the Medical Center Campus. 

ATTENDANCE IS limited. If you have any questions, contact, Uma Sriram at (312) 355-4935 or, or Donald Kamm at (312) 996-6424 or

Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQPA Provides Forum for Sexual Identity and Gender Diversity

By Monica M. Walk

DIVERSITY AT UIC is inherent, yet sensitivity to the campus’s varied population benefits from focused institutional attention. The Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer People and Allies (CCSLGBTQPA) works with the Chancellor and Provost to address issues and concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community at UIC.

THE COMMITTEE revised its name last year to expand its reach and recognize the transgendered and queer communities, as well as allies.

“IT IS important that the Chancellor’s Committee is inclusive in as many ways as we can be,” said committee co-chair Patricia O’Brien, associate professor of Social Work. “We want people to feel welcome. Words are important. We value everyone across the rainbow. And we recognize that allies are crucial to change in the world: We recognize that these people are straight, but not narrow.”

THE COMMITTEE operates with a duo of balanced leadership comprised of a faculty and a staff member. Their terms overlap, so that one leader always has experience with the group. (O’Brien, who has led the committee in the past, is completing a one-year appointment to fill a gap.)

CO-CHAIR PHILIP Vasquez, associate director of Student Development Services, was recruited to join the committee by a past chair and then volunteered to be a co-chair through spring of 2014. Vasquez joined because he wanted to integrate his professional work with diversity education—including co-directing the First Year Dialogue Seminar, a diversity seminar for freshmen—with diversity work around the campus.

“THE COMMITTEE advocates on institutional issues for faculty, employees, and students,” Vasquez said. “I am interested in student issues, especially transgender issues.  My work with that population exposes a lot of marginalization.  My priority is to advocate for these students, and this committee cuts across units and offices at UIC.”

THE COMMITTEE also collaborates on many projects and issues with the Gender and Sexuality Center.

AMONG FUTURE goals, Vasquez cites increasing outreach to faculty regarding LGTBQ students on campus. “Anecdotally, we hear from students on campus that they struggle with professors who are hetero-normative or traditional-gender oriented and may ask questions that aren’t inclusive,” Vasquez said. 

O’BRIEN ALSO stressed the importance of nurturing campus diversity and examining barriers. “The administration talks about our amazing diversity, but that doesn’t mean the climate and environment are absolutely friendly,” she said. “I can tell you from surveys that everything is not all right—we need consistent attention on comments and actions that keep people from being fully included.”

AMONG THOSE barriers is a registration system that only allows for legal first names—not preferred first names—to be listed. Legal first names often are gender-specific, and professors calling roll inadvertently make students disclose a gender they may not identify with, O’Brien explained. “In every single class, that student has to disclose they are not the assumed gender that the name implies,” O’Brien said. “This is huge for that student and how they are engaged in that class. They have to automatically tell their story, whether they want to or not.”

THE UIC campus is a leader within the University of Illinois, Vasquez noted, as the only campus that currently includes transgendered health issues in campus health insurance. The Board of Trustees voted last year to allow people to use their medical plan to move toward surgery related to change in gender.

AN ISSUE currently under exploration by CCSLGBTQPA is the inclusive climate at the University of Illinois Hospital. “We have questions about the UI Hospital not being on the Health Equality Index, which is sponsored by a national organization, the Human Rights Campaign,” O’Brien said, noting the index “indicates the degree to which a hospital is LGBT-affirming and inclusive. This includes the training that medical personnel get with language around patients and partners. This matters in the context of dealing with serious issues. We are developing a task force to move forward with training for the hospital to be more cognizant and affirming.”

THE UIC campus does hold a five-star rating from the Campus Pride Climate Index and is listed among the top 25 LGBT friendly school in the nation. “This is fantastic,” O’Brien said. “The Alliance for Safe Schools says that because we have structures in place—like the CCSLGBTQPA, partner benefits, and the Gender and Sexuality Center—we have gone a ways to establish a safe context. This is very important.”

THE CCSLGBTQPA awards annual scholarships to a UIC graduate and undergraduate student demonstrating excellence and involvement in the LGBTQ community.

THE COMMITTEE’S focus on students culminates in the annual Lavender Graduation, a celebration for LGBTQPA students and their family and friends, as well as faculty and staff. The event is sponsored by the gender and Sexuality Center, with funding and personal support from the CCSLGBTQPA. Now in its eighth year, the event continues to grow in size and importance, both Vasquez and O’Brien report. This year’s event is slated for Friday, May 2, 4-6:30 p.m. in the UIC Forum. (

“I WAS at the first one,” O’Brien recalled. “There were three graduates. Last year, there were about 50 graduates and we have outgrown the space we used to use. This year we will be at the Forum. It is a great celebration, a connecting event—very affirming.”

“THE EVENT validates the students’ hard work and the University’s support of them,” Vasquez said. “Twenty-five years ago, this event didn’t exist. It makes the students feel good that University leaders support them. We get great feedback on it.”

THE CCSLGBTQPA also supports the Lavender Research Forum. The Monday, April 14, event in Room 1-470 of the UIC Daley Library will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public (RSVP to for lunch reservations). UIC alum Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Services, a social justice organization on the South Side specializing in work on behalf of Black LGBTQ adults and youth, will be the keynote speaker.

“I AM very excited about this keynote,” O’Brien said. “She is one of ours—earning a master’s in urban planning and policy in 1987—and has amazing experience in the community. She can talk about the linkage of community and university research.”

MEMBERS OF the UIC community are invited to become involved in the CCSLGBTQPA. While the 14 positions on the official roster are by appointment by the Chancellor, meetings are public and all are invited to attend.

“ANYONE CAN attend and get involved,” Vasquez said. “We have working teams, and the UIC public can get involved. We like volunteers and new people to come. I especially want to encourage younger and newer staff to come get involved. This isn’t a group just for ‘higher ups’…I’d love to see more Academic Professionals show up.”

THE COMMITTEE’S next monthly meeting is Thursday, April 10, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room 2750 of University Hall.

FOR MORE information, visit

Upcoming CCSLGBTQPA dates:
Thursday, April 10—Monthly committee meeting, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Room 2750, University Hall.
Monday, April 14 –Lavender Research Forum,  Room 1-470, UIC Daley Library, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free and open to the public (RSVP to for lunch reservations).
Friday, May 2—Lavender Graduation, 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the UIC Forum.