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posted: 1/6/2014 5:00 AM

Madigan's summary of pension law worthless

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The members of the Illinois General Assembly were allowed by the leadership less than a full day to read and understand the new 325-page pension law. The law is now available online and so jam-packed with legalese that it seems almost unreadable. It is likely, then, that members of the assembly had to rely on their leaders for a clear and accurate summary of the law.

The Chicago Tribune of Dec. 4 reported that when Michael Madigan responded to a lawmaker's question during debate on the bill, he summarized what considerations employees are getting in return for their pension reductions. One of his "considerations" was "the retirement system could go to the Illinois Supreme Court if lawmakers failed to make required payments."

It is interesting that the General Assembly felt a need to make it part of the law that the retirement system would have to use precious resources to fight through the courts if the lawmakers violated the law. It is certainly a matter of record, however, that for years the lawmakers didn't follow the law by underfunding the pensions.

What was missing from Madigan's summary of that part of the law was the last line of the written summaries: "This provision, however, can be altered or repealed by the General Assembly in the future." What kind of consideration is that? It seems only logical that in the future when the lawmakers decide not to "make the required payments" they will simply repeal the provision giving the retirement system no way to fight for the law. It is also interesting that no one during the debate challenged him on the worthlessness of the "consideration." Apparently they hadn't read the law or been given the short summary that is available now to all of us.

Bill Bailey


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