pensions

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Illinois to help Chicago with its ballooning pension payments, which are squeezing other priorities in the state budget.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Listen to a special State Week, recorded in front of an audience at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices state historic site in downtown Springfield.

Host Sean Crawford, along with regular panel members Brian Mackey, Daisy Contreras and Charlie Wheeler, are joined by guest Hannah Meisel of The Daily Line. The discussion focused on the governor’s push for a graduated income tax and Senate Democrats pushing it through that chamber. You'll also hear about prospects for recreational marijuana, sports betting, a capital construction program and more.

Courtesy of Illinois Public Media

Authorities are investigating an anonymous letter threatening the lives of anyone in line to receive state-funded pensions. The letter was mailed to several legislators and at least one public radio station. In big letters, the mailing says “Dead people can’t collect fat state pensions,” and goes on to warn lawmakers and union leaders of death by arson, strangulation or other unspecified means.

University of Illinois at Chicago / University of Illinois at Chicago

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed changes to the state's pension systems. He says this could help cover other pressing areas, like education, healthcare and public safety. But the plan would mean cutting back on pension payments --- atleast on the short-term, that's according to Amanda Kass, the associate director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's first budget proposal is calling for new taxes, more spending, and a series of moves around state pensions. But that's all a placeholder as he begins a push to change Illinois' flat income tax to one where the wealthy pay more.

We'll analyze what he said, what he didn't say, and what's next for Illinois' ailing finances.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats in the Illinois House approved an increase in the state minimum wage. Assuming Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the legislation — he's said he will — the rate will gradually climb to $15 perhour in the year 2025;

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he tried to get out of his doomed re-election bid. In an interview with Craig Wall of WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC station, he says he tried and failed to recruit other people to take his place on the ballot.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address before the General Assembly and House Speaker Michael Madigan fired a long-time campaign worker due to sexual harassment allegations.

Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been campaigning relentlessly against last year’s income tax increase.

But in his annual budget address Wednesday, he'll call for spending the extra money that rate hike has generated.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A month after Gov. Bruce Rauner conveyed to Republicans his opposition to the grand bargain, Senate Democrats are rejecting his attempt to break off pieces of the deal. Meanwhile, Democrats are offering a "Comeback Agenda" as an alternative to Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda," and House Speaker Michael Madigan is taking public offense to some of the governor's remarks.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republican senators working with Gov. Bruce Rauner began breaking off pieces of the "grand bargain," which Democrats say undermines efforts to move toward a compromise budget. Meanwhile, what had been a bipartisan selection process for Illinois' U.S. attorneys is changing, with senior Republican Congressman John Shimkus saying he's waiting for the Trump administration to advise him on how to proceed.

A globe in a classroom with the Illinois flag in the background.
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

pile of $20 bills
D Borman / flickr

Illinois' already strained bank account will be stretched by another $4.6 billion because of action taken by the state government's largest pension fund.

Pension Prospects?

Sep 21, 2016

Lawmakers haven't touched state pension benefits in the nearly year-and-a-half since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled their last attempt unconstitutional. But Governor Bruce Rauner says he's "pretty excited": He thinks they will pass a new law this winter.


npr.org

It's a rare occurrence of late: A credit rating agency saying something positive about Illinois' finances. But the comment published Tuesday by Moody's Investor Service was tempered.

Illinois could end up having to put an additional half billion dollars into one of its pension funds next year.

As the name suggests, the Teachers Retirement System is the retirement benefits fund for all Illinois public school teachers outside of Chicago.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Democrats and Republicans came together to approve a partial state budget. It's enough to sustain some government operations through the end of the year, but it's still a long way away from functional government.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As the clock ticks down on the General Assembly, lawmakers are struggling to avoid the debacle of public schools not opening in the fall. But they’re having a tough time coming up with a school funding formula that pleases both parties.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A pair of Illinois Supreme Court rulings this week are a mixed bag for government employees. The justices struck down a law intended to reduce benefits for Chicago city employees, but also found that AFSCME members cannot be paid bargained-for raises unless the General Assembly specifically authorizes the spending.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday struck down another attempt to control the cost of government pension benefits.

This time it was Chicago city employees and retirees whose pensions were being targeted. The retirement system for one set of workers is projected to be insolvent in about a decade.

In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly changed the rules, but in Thursday's 5-0 ruling, the Supreme Court found that unconstitutional.

Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey spoke with his colleague Amanda Vinicky about the decision.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt, but they are beginning to weigh their options.

NPR Illinois State Week logo (Capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

ilga.gov

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he's open to considering a new pension overhaul and is ``anxious'' to see legislation. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Talks on fixing the state pension debt resumed, but Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton can't seem to agree on what they agreed to and Rauner declared contract negotiations with AFSCME at an impasse.  Also this week, the governor announced his support for the state taking over the entire Chicago Public Schools system.  Meanwhile, Illinois higher education continues to go unfunded.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, a look back at the past year in Illinois state government and politics.  WUIS News Director Sean Crawford and Illinois Issues Editor Jamey Dunn join the panel.

npr.org

  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case, six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law. Tuesday they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' lack of a budget means public pension systems won't get their state contribution next month. That won't stop retirees from getting their checks. However, there could still be an impact.

Amanda Vinicky

Another lawsuit over a pension law was filed this week in Illinois, this time seeking to strike a law that reduced Chicago Park District pensions. That could be significant for other local governments, and future negotiations.

When it first passed, the park district pension law was seen as a possible model for future ones, in part because it had been drafted in cooperation with SEIU, the union representing park district workers.

Zach Bernard

New ways to tackle Illinois' underfunded pension systems could be emerging, as the Republican governor appears to be backing away from his plan.

There's good reason many lawmakers are feeling flummoxed. Illinois' budget is already sagging. And with last week's state Supreme Court decision tossing a major pension law, the deficit is larger still.

The court decision was unequivocal - it's not constitutional to cut state employees' retirement benefits.

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