WBEZ | pensions http://www.wbez.org/tags/pensions Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Examining politicians' self-made narrative http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-09/morning-shift-examining-politicians-self-made <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover boots Flickr wormwould.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Politicians love reminding voters of their humble beginnings. We dissect the &quot;bootstrap&quot; narrative. We also hear about Norse mythology from an unlikely source.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-examining-the-bootstrap-narrative/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-examining-the-bootstrap-narrative.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-examining-the-bootstrap-narrative" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Examining politicians' self-made narrative" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 08:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-09/morning-shift-examining-politicians-self-made Morning Shift: Artists work overtime to follow their dreams http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-22/morning-shift-artists-work-overtime-follow-their <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr Muffet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at the social barriers to accessing reproductive health services. And, we talk to the director of a film following people following their passions.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-artists-in-the-workforce-work-overti/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-artists-in-the-workforce-work-overti.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-artists-in-the-workforce-work-overti" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Artists work overtime to follow their dreams" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-22/morning-shift-artists-work-overtime-follow-their Morning Shift: After state reform, what's next for Chicago pensions? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-09/morning-shift-after-state-reform-whats-next-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/danxoneil.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After last weeks historic state pension deal, the focus shifts to Chicago. WBEZ political reporter Alex Keefe discusses possible solutions and challenges.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-after-state-reform-what-s-next-for-c/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-after-state-reform-what-s-next-for-c.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-after-state-reform-what-s-next-for-c" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: After state reform, what's next for Chicago pensions?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 08:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-09/morning-shift-after-state-reform-whats-next-chicago The politics behind the pension vote http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/dan montgomery.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers have approved a long-awaited plan to restructure retirement benefits for state employees and Gov. Pat Quinn says he&rsquo;ll sign the bill into law.</p><p>But labor groups are vowing to sue, saying the measure unlawfully cuts the pensions of their members.</p><p>And even though the dialogue around changing the pension benefits of state employees started years ago, the proposal sets up a big fight for next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Legislative leaders gave themselves a week - a holiday week, at that - to sell the bill to their own members. Senate President John Cullerton spent Tuesday morning meeting privately with his senators to get them on board.</p><p>Republican House Leader Jim Durkin says the short timeframe made for a busy home stretch.</p><p>&ldquo;I had people running in and running out over the last 24 hours,&rdquo; he said in an interview after Tuesday&rsquo;s vote. &ldquo;Talking to every member, every question.&rdquo;</p><p>Except, Durkin said, there may have been an ulterior motive behind some of the questions he was getting from his own fellow Republicans.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say some questions weren&rsquo;t exactly sincere. So that&rsquo;s politics. That&rsquo;s what we live in,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But there was a lot of - to say that it got a little tense is an understatement.&rdquo;</p><p>Durkin said some Republicans had legitimate concerns. For instance, he says some downstate GOP representatives have a lot of state employees in their districts, especially those with prisons. Meantime, others want to move state pension funds into 401K style plans -- and nothing else would do.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people I will just say that their reasoning is not reasonable and I question it because of the dynamics of what&rsquo;s going on in the State of Illinois over this next year,&rdquo; Durkin said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a political season and some people believe that we shouldn&rsquo;t deliver a win to the Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p>The logic goes: If Republicans blocked yesterday&rsquo;s pensions vote, Democrats - and Governor Pat Quinn - would look bad for not getting the job done come Election Day. That&rsquo;s a claim reiterated by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who&rsquo;s also chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.</p><p>&ldquo;I find Bruce Rauner to be particularly disingenuous with his approach to this,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p>Rauner is a venture capitalist running for governor who opposes the pension deal.</p><p>&ldquo;My view is that (Rauner) would like to blow it up so that he would maintain a campaign issue,&rdquo; Madigan said. &ldquo;So with the passage of the bill and the anticipated signature by the governor, why, Rauner has lost one of his campaign issues.&rdquo;</p><p>In response to Madigan&rsquo;s claim, a Rauner spokesman said the Republican thinks the plan is a bad one. After the vote, Rauner released a statement saying the pension bill doesn&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>When asked if Rauner and his allies made the pension vote more complicated for Republican senators, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said, &ldquo;Absolutely it made it more complicated.&rdquo;</p><p>She said if the vote had taken place at another time - and not three months before the primary - the votes might have been different. When asked why Rauner, who&rsquo;s never held political office, could influence lawmakers so much, Radogno said it&rsquo;s not just about Rauner&rsquo;s political influence, but also his money.</p><p>And Rauner has a lot of it.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, people think about campaign funding. They think about what support they&rsquo;ll get when they&rsquo;re running. They think about their own political futures. They think about the people that are around Bruce Rauner and how they relate to them and their campaigns,&rdquo; Radogno said.</p><p>There are three other Republicans in the primary for governor.</p><p>State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, was the only candidate to support the pension bill.</p><p>Twenty percent of the current budget&rsquo;s revenue goes toward pensions. Brady says that number will only get worse - and the remaining money isn&rsquo;t enough to pay for education and other government services.</p><p>State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Westmont, wanted more time to review the legislation - and voted no. But his pick for Lieutenant Governor in next year&rsquo;s campaign, State Representative Jil Tracy of Quincy, voted yes.</p><p>Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he thinks it&rsquo;s unconstitutional.</p><p>On the Democratic side, incumbent Pat Quinn, who&rsquo;s running for re-election, could face some opposition from a group who previously supported him: labor unions.</p><p>&ldquo;I do think, as I said, this is the triumph of politics over the rule of law in this state, so I would imagine there are political consequences all around,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, the head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.</p><p>When asked what those consequences will be, Montgomery replied, &ldquo;Well, that&rsquo;s yet to be seen.&rdquo;</p><p>But with a lawsuit from the unions imminent, the issue isn&rsquo;t likely to disappear before next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Already, Chicago and Cook County officials are wondering how the vote will affect their own pension systems.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement shortly after the legislature approved the pension bill.</p><p>&ldquo;The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>State lawmakers agree.</p><p>State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove, said that while some of the state&rsquo;s pension systems are poorly funded, Chicago&rsquo;s teachers&rsquo; retirement plans are perhaps even worse.</p><p>&ldquo;Our work on pensions is by no means done, but this will let a lot of air back in the room to start addressing the other systems,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said county employees&rsquo; retirement system&rsquo;s unfunded liability grew by $1 billion last year, and also needs state intervention.</p><p>Meantime, House Republican Leader Durkin said he&rsquo;ll work with Mayor Emanuel, even though he&rsquo;s with the opposing political party.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</em><em>Illinois Public Radio&rsquo;s Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaVinicky">@amandavinicky</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301 Morning Shift: Illinois' pension crisis could have cure-or face another hurdle http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-04/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-cure <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by jimmywayne.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers Tuesday are voting on a deal that would aim to fix the state&#39;s pension crisis. Who&#39;s happy with the deal and who thinks it falls short? We take the pulse. Plus, documenting the struggles of a small Indiana town through the eyes of the high school basketball team.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-c" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Illinois' pension crisis could have cure-or face another hurdle" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 08:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-04/morning-shift-illinois-pension-crisis-could-have-cure Legislature passes 'historic' pension vote http://www.wbez.org/news/legislature-passes-historic-pension-vote-109287 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 11.23.37 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers Tuesday passed a deal on pension reform proposal that&rsquo;s been developing for about three years.</p><p>The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, sending it to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it. The Senate approved the measure 30-24 just minutes earlier.</p><p>&quot;There will be changes here, much-needed changes, but this bill is a well thought out, well-balanced bill that deserves the support of this body, the state Senate and the approval of Gov. Quinn,&quot; House Speaker Michael Madigan said at the start of the House debate. &quot;Something&#39;s got to be done. We can&#39;t go on dedicating so much of our resources to this one sector of pensions.&quot;</p><p>Public employee unions, who oppose the bill, vowed to quickly take legal action. They say the legislation is unfair to workers and retirees who for years made faithful contributions to retirement systems but now will see benefits cut because of government mismanagement. They also argue parts of the measure are unconstitutional.</p><p>&quot;This is no victory for Illinois, but a dark day for its citizens and public servants,&quot; the We Are One Illinois union coalition said in a statement soon after the votes. &quot;Teachers, caregivers, police and others stand to lose huge portions of their life savings because politicians chose to threaten their retirement security, rather than pass a much fairer, legal, negotiated solution ...&quot;</p><p>It comes after the leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties in the legislature said last week they had reached a long-awaited agreement on how to structure the state pension funds for the next 30 years.</p><p>The announcement also prompted a call to arms by organized labor groups, who immediately started fiercely mobilizing against the measure under one umbrella organization. These opponents say the plan punishes workers for the state&rsquo;s financial problems.</p><p>Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday said lawmakers&rsquo; scheduled action on the packaged pension deal will be one for the ages at the Capitol.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a historic vote,&rdquo; Quinn told reporters during an appearance in Chicago. &ldquo;Probably the most important fiscal vote a member of the legislature will ever take in their lifetime in the legislature.&rdquo;</p><p>Quinn made addressing the problems of state&rsquo;s pension system his top legislative priority during his current term as governor. The four retirement funds in question, which cover legislators, university employees, suburban and downstate teachers, and other state workers are all underfunded. Those pushing for changing the benefit structures often say Illinois&rsquo; retirement funds are the worst-funded systems in the country.</p><p>In that time, Quinn has said he&rsquo;d start a grass-roots campaign around the theme of pension reform. He unveiled a series of videos (including one featuring a pensions mascot and a explainer video produced by the Khan Academy educational website). And, for several weeks earlier this year, he suspended the paychecks of lawmakers and himself to pressure them to pass a plan he supported. A Cook County judge eventually allowed legislators to collect their checks, but Quinn has still rejected his own until he signs a pension measure into law.</p><p>But negotiations have been slow, and all of Quinn&rsquo;s campaigning behind the issue alienated a group of big potential Democratic campaign supporters ahead of his bid for re-election next year. Labor groups rallied at various lawmakers&rsquo; district offices Monday to encourage them to vote no on Tuesday.</p><p>&ldquo;We feel that cutting our pensions that we paid into is wrong,&rdquo; said Jennifer Edwards, a retiree from the University of Illinois-Chicago who rallied with a small group outside the office of State Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago. &ldquo;They need to figure out some other way to handle it. We paid in and we want our money.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think this bill&rsquo;s going to pass,&rdquo; Henry Bayer, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Monday on WBEZ&rsquo;s The Morning Shift. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re doing everything we can to stop it. But if it should pass, it&rsquo;s gonna be challenged in court and if it gets overturned in court, it will not save the taxpayers of Illinois one dime. We&rsquo;ll be right in the same predicament we&rsquo;re in today.&rdquo;</p><p>Meantime, the political reality behind Tuesday&rsquo;s pension vote is also present on the Republican side of the aisle.</p><p>&ldquo;You hear folks on the Republican side saying, &lsquo;Well this is not enough. Vote no. Let chaos reign. And then let a new governor come in,&rsquo;&rdquo; said state Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. &ldquo; I think that is manipulating it for political purposes as well.&rdquo;</p><p>Of the four Republicans challenging Quinn for governor, only state Sen. Bill Brady has said he supports the proposal. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he does not think the plan is constitutional. State Sen. Kirk Dillard said he wants hearings into the proposal. And venture capitalist Bruce Rauner sent an email to supporters Sunday saying the bill does not save enough money.</p><p>The legislative leaders who support the bill say it will save the state $160 billion over 30 years. It does that in large part by adjusting the increases retirees get to keep up with cost of living. The proposal would tie annual increases to inflation, rather than keep it at a set percentage rate.</p><p>The bill also requires employees to pay less into their own retirement system as a consideration for cuts to other parts of their benefits. It calls for increasing the retirement age for younger workers and establishes a funding schedule for the next 30 years.</p><p>The bill would also remove many pension matters from the collective bargaining process with labor groups, and it allows a limited number of certain employees to enter into a retirement plan that looks more like a 401(k). It also calls for a so-called funding guarantee, which says a pension system can utilize the courts to make the state pay into the fund.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.</em></p></p> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/legislature-passes-historic-pension-vote-109287 Morning Shift: Tracking real time Black Friday behavior http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-29/morning-shift-tracking-real-time-black-friday <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by jpellgen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The biggest shopping day of the year kicks off the Holiday season and Morning Shift is taking a real-time look at the decisions consumers are making. We also hear about Chicago artists that will be featured in the prestigious Whitney Biennial.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-49/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-49.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-49" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Tracking real time Black Friday behavior" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-29/morning-shift-tracking-real-time-black-friday Morning Shift: Authorities look to future solutions for DCFS' sometimes troubled system http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-20/morning-shift-authorities-look-future-solutions-dcfs <p><p>Ben Wolf of ACLU and Denise Gonzales of DCFS respond to WBEZ and Chicago Sun-Times&#39; &quot;Faces of Failure&quot;, the series exploring deaths in the DCFS system. They discuss the history of the system, and offer ideas for improvement.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-authorities-look-to-future-solutions/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-authorities-look-to-future-solutions.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-authorities-look-to-future-solutions" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Authorities look to future solutions for DCFS' sometimes troubled system" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 08:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-20/morning-shift-authorities-look-future-solutions-dcfs Top Illinois lawmakers sue governor over pay veto http://www.wbez.org/news/top-illinois-lawmakers-sue-governor-over-pay-veto-108235 <p><p>The two top lawmakers in Illinois are suing Gov. Pat Quinn for suspending the pay of Springfield legislators.</p><p>Earlier this month, Quinn said lawmakers wouldn&rsquo;t get paid until they passed pension reform. In retaliation, the Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and the Senate President John Cullerton released a lawsuit in Cook County Court Tuesday.</p><p>The lawsuit begins with the phrase, &ldquo;Not since Governor Blagojevich,&rdquo; right off the bat, comparing Quinn to his now-imprisoned predecessor.</p><p>In the filing, Cullerton and Madigan say Rod Blagojevich had tried to reduce the salaries of judges, something that was later found to be unconstitutional. They say Quinn&rsquo;s move is similar and compromises the separation of powers between branches of government.</p><p>&ldquo;Every day that passes, with the salaries of...members of the General Assembly remaining unpaid and eliminated, is a threat to the independence of a co-equal branch of state government,&rdquo; the lawsuit states.</p><p>The point being; if Quinn can suspend lawmakers&rsquo; pay for pension reform this time, what&rsquo;s to say the next time around, it won&rsquo;t be gun control or abortion rights or tax policy.</p><p>Quinn is standing his ground, though.</p><p>In a statement, he said the lawsuit is, &ldquo;just plain wrong&rdquo; and if the same effort had been put into pension reform as the lawsuit, pensions would&rsquo;ve been fixed by now.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him<a href="http://www.twitter.com/tonyjarnold"> @tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 16:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/top-illinois-lawmakers-sue-governor-over-pay-veto-108235 Topinka says she must cancel lawmakers’ paychecks - for now http://www.wbez.org/news/topinka-says-she-must-cancel-lawmakers%E2%80%99-paychecks-now-108197 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/topinka.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois lawmakers will not be getting their paychecks for the month of August. Illinois&rsquo; comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka, who issues checks for state employees, said Thursday she will not send them out, per Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s veto earlier this month.</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn said neither he nor lawmakers should receive paychecks until the state addresses its $100 billion pension debt and agrees on a compromise to restructure state employees&rsquo; retirement benefits.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We tried to get as much legal guidance on this as possible so that we knew we would be doing the right thing and following the law exactly and not getting tripped up,&rdquo; Topinka said at a news conference Thursday.</p><p dir="ltr">Topinka said there are conflicting legal opinions between her staff, the governor&rsquo;s legal team and the Attorney General&rsquo;s office. But the consensus is that if there is no money appropriated for legislators and the governor, then she can&rsquo;t legally send out the checks. Topinka was critical of the governor&rsquo;s idea to stop the paychecks, but said the best way to resolve the matter is either court action or for the legislature to override the governor&rsquo;s veto of their pay.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is no way to run a government,&rdquo; Topinka said. &ldquo;Threats, blackmail and inertia may good theater, but it makes us look ridiculous and it takes away from our ability to get things done.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Lawmakers typically receive their paychecks at the beginning of each month. August&rsquo;s check is the first skipped check for lawmakers since the governor took action.</p><p dir="ltr">Meantime, after the legislature adjourned without agreeing on a pension compromise in May, a committee of five state representatives and five state senators was formed to try to find a new pension reform plan that could get the support of all parties involved.</p><p dir="ltr">They continue to meet in private, but they have not issued a timeframe for when a proposal may be released. Some members of the committee have criticized Quinn for trying to rush the process while they were waiting to find out how different plans and how much money each could save the state.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Jul 2013 08:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/topinka-says-she-must-cancel-lawmakers%E2%80%99-paychecks-now-108197