CN August 4 2016


Pensions are back in the news. Mayor Emanuel wants massive increases in water and sewer fees to fund the big hole in the Municipal Employees pension plan – the fourth, last and largest of the City’s own pension funds.  The Fire, Police and Laborers pension plans have ben put on track to solvency, he says, with last year’s property tax increase and an imposition of telephone taxes, etc.

So, what of the teachers? The Chicago teachers pension fund, as we all know, is still way out of whack. But CPS did make its $600-million-plus payment recently, and CPS won its argument to get about $200 million annually from the state to help get the fund into a stable condition.


And there’s always a “but.” In this case, CPS only gets the money if the Legislature is able to pass “pension reform” before January 1. Considering that Chicago has been arguing about pension reform for decades, does that seem possible?

“Well,” opines Fred Klonsky, the highly regarded blogger and activist, “of course the first question that any teacher, any public employee who is dependent on a public pension for their retirement asks, what is that reform going to look like and who is going to pay for it? It wasn’t exactly clear when that story broke exactly what it meant and who was going to sit at the table to bargain or negotiate what the pension should look like, what pension reform would look like. Because when I look at it the only real pension reform that the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago can come up with is to figure out a way to raise enough revenue to pay its promise to the employees of the City and the State.”

See how easy this’ll be? Just make sure everybody gets paid, and everybody’s happy.

We talk about what could possibly be on that table, including later retirement, increased pension contributions for new hires and other plans that have often been proposed as “reforms.”

You can read a full transcript of this conversation in Word format HERE: CN transcript August 4 2016



About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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