Local lawmakers can expect some questions this morning at the Evanston Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast about last week’s decision by the state supreme court throwing out the pension reform package.

The court’s ruling — which said the plan violates the state constitution — makes the legislature’s job of trying to fund the public employee pensions while not radically cutting other state spending a lot more difficult, and is likely to bring calls to bring back the temporary income tax hike that was recently allowed to expire.

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and State Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) are expected at the 7:30 a.m. session at the Hilton Garden Inn along with U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky, (D-Evanston) and County Commissionr Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston).

The Evanston City Council this evening has an unusually light agenda, with no Planning and Development Committee meeting. It is scheduled to approve a $42,000 grant to expand funding for job training programs at Curt’s Cafe on Central Street and the new Curt’s Cafe south on Dempster Street. And it’s expected to approve issuing a request for qualifications for theater groups that might open a new performing arts space in city-owned buildings in the 700 block of Howard Street.

School District 65’s Finance Committee also meets tonight 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What the court said is that

    What the court said is that we need a constitutional fix to our union pension problem. Why do we need to monkey around.

  2. The day ahead: Pensions for breakfast

    I suspect our elected officials do not read the comments here.  I wish they would.  Here's the truth about a constitutional ammendment.  A referendum was on the 2008 ballot to convene a constitutional convention.  It was defeated.  It was defeated by the lobbying of the General Assembly themselves because it is a lot of work to have a constitutional convention.  It is also risky since lots of other issues can be put into the state constitution.   Is one needed?  Not sure, but amending the public pension amendment is needed. Gov Rauner won because voters want him to act on these issues.  Remember, Rauner defeated a sitting Dem Gov in a very blue state.  IL Dems need to be part of the solution or 2016 and 2018 will be a very tough years for them.

    1. Pensions have been ignored breakfast, noon and night

      None of the three legislators can claim ignorance nor are their re4spective hands clean on the latest fiasco. Gabel wrote constituents after voting for the ill-advised and now-discredited bill that she thought it was good, that she had considered her decision long and hard, etc. – most probably she, as did the other two, simply went along, lock-step with Madigan. Bliss knew better and told people he had doubts, but he, much like Cullerton, who now tries to remind people he thought it was unconstitutional, voted for the changes anyway. Personally, both political parties are equally guilty of having gone more than a decade without funding the pensions. If any of us failed to pay our mortgage each month or only paid interest and not principal, etc., the banks would have foreclosed by now. We could not claim we needed the money for vacations, new cars, or even college tuition or new clothes. Same here. Nearly all of the pension debt is the result of not paying the required amount every year. Ironically, the employees were not given the same option, i.e., their contributions were deducted automatically each pay period, just never matched. Would those who pay in Social Security not expect that the US Government matches, as required, their payments and would everyone on social Security not be screaming if the Congress and President suddenly indicate that, in order to make the system viable, future payments would be reduced, cost-of-living formulas revised downward, retirement age increased, etc. As to constitutional conventions. The one that got defeated was, if I recall, only for revising the methods of redistricting and maybe also for term limits. Both topics, I suspect not favored by either party. Revising the constitution is not an easy process and will take years to implement or even ratify whatever emerges. The risks of all sorts of fanciful changes arising unrelated to what the intent might be is probable. It might be better if the deadbeats in Springfield who used the money for perks and pork barrel projects for their districts, contributors or constituents, recognize that, even at the risk of losing their cushy jobs, they must demonstrate that they have a spine and deal with the problems responsibly. I might add that, ironically, one of the reasons that the State constitution even includes the language that was the crux of this latest decision, is because at the time of the constitutional convention that put that article in, there had been a history of the State not funding the pensions properly and little trust that the State would not do so in the future. Subsequently, the State failed to do so and lost once before in court only to fund the pensions only as needed for each year and not for future benefits. These were scams on the part of the governors (many subsequently jailed) and a long series of legislative "leaders". If there was a flaw in the Constitution clause in question, it was that it never made contributions by the State mandatory – a loophole used up through and including Quinn, Madigan, etc. and, if he could Rauner. The chickens have come home to roost, while our legislative representatives probably dined on omelets for breakfast without paying.

  3. Pension return assumptions and the facts
    Several times citizens have questioned the return from investments the city and their actuaries used—they seemed far too high.
    Of course if the expected return is too high the city is likely to promise more in pensions and unions and members ask for more.
    But what have the actual returns been ? I’m not talking about funding by union members, schools and the city but the returns you would get from stocks/bonds.
    A graph by year of expected and actual would be very interesting to taxpayers.

    1. Pension Earnings

      State Senator Biss provided this link.

      From a preliminary look, I find it hard to believe that some of the Pension returns are as high as they state.  They would have to be running a hedge fund to make some of those returns and definitely have a balanced budget.

      Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability

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