Unimpressed with town hall meeting
At a town-hall meeting sponsored by State Sen. Jim Oberweis, the discussion topic was to be pension reform. After a few brief remarks by Senator Oberweis about taxes, the floor was turned over to Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute.
Dabrowski went on to explain the Institute's plan to reform Illinois. A few people in the audience questioned why Dabrowski was doing all the talking, and not their senator. Sen. Oberweis said that he invited Dabrowski to introduce the plan. A few members of the audience, who came to hear Oberweis, were upset with that answer and got up and left.
Senator Oberweis was unaware that his name had been added as the chief sponsor of SB2026, which exempts state judges to be "separate and distinct from all other entities, maintained for the purpose of securing the payment of annuities and benefits as prescribed herein" (the Illinois Pension Code 40 ILCS 5/18-101).
It also turned out that the plan that Dabrowski was touting was actually the blueprint for HB3303, a bill that would give teachers "options." However, the bill would freeze current teachers' pension calculations at their present level for TRS and would then have their future salaries put in a "self-managed plan." That eliminates the "option" and when a similar option was presented to State University Retirement System participant only 15 percent opted for the "self-managed plan." If no more money would be put into TRS from current teachers, them the solvency of TRS is in dire straits, and what would that do to current annuitants? (Remember, teachers do not get Social Security.)
HB3303 also calls for the end to COLAs, and that is in violation of Article XII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution. Neither Oberweis nor Dabrowski seemed to care about that.