Sen. Harmon, Rep. Willis at Wood Dale, 7/23/13

Town hall meeting

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By Jim Bowman


 25 or so citizens at Wood Dale City Hall.

Q: Pension problem known since 2006, recognized since then. Where's urgency? commitment?

* Crisis dimension rated according to tough standard, assuming pensioners live to 90 etc. Still, using that standard, with contributions as this year and last, state has 32 years before money runs out.

* 2010 reform raised retirement age to 67, lowered benefits, etc. effective 1/1/2011 and later hires.

Highlights Regarding 2010 Pension Stabilization Plan as explained at the time by Sen. Cullerton:

The reforms . . . apply only to those who are employed on or after January 1, 2011. retirement on full pension is adjusted to age 67 with 10 years of service, on reduced pension to age 62 with 10 years of service. Final average salary is calculated over an eight-(not four-) year period. Cost of Living Adjustment is reduced from a 3% annual compounded to not-compounded, meaning that each increase is based only the original pensionable salary. Etc.

Harmon: In earlier fix, 1995, Republicans re-amortized pension shortfall, kicking can down the road. (This needs checking.)

Asked why the difference in fiscal health, IMRF vs. other state pensions, Harmon: State mandated paying the full amount for IMRF. (So hands-off policy? At its heart, difference seems crucial, was case of fiscal discipline at work?)

Asked about Medicaid expansion, Harmon: At first all is paid by fed govt. Later only 90%. H. hopes, expects this to work out.

Undocumented will use ER as before? H: Yes. (Straightforward, not elaborated. Interesting.)

Recurring motif: Media coverage at fault, giving state its "reputational problem." It's "theater" vs. economic reality. Matters "misreported" or unreported, as the aforementioned 2010 reform. (Or not reported as to reflect its importance.) He complains about newspapers, has axe to grind, legitimate beef, what?

Email: Twitter: @BlitheSp

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