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SUAA Mini Briefing 02.05.2016

SUAA Mini Briefing
February 5, 2016

East, West, North and South Higher Education Campuses Are Yelling For HELP!

Due to the unfortunate impasse of the Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget, funding for MAP Grants (The Illinois State Monetary Awards Program for dependent students from families with incomes less than $60,000 or independent students) were put on hold.

A significant number of the State supported universities, private universities/colleges and community colleges are partly facing financial problems because the schools covered the costs of the MAP Grants for their incoming fall semester students. With the beginning of the spring semester a few campuses could still afford to cover the cost of MAP Grants, but a significant number of universities and community college campuses could not. Therefore, these students became the pawns (or maybe a better description is collateral damage).

The campuses fiscal problems continue to mount because there has been no financial support during the 2016 State Budget impasse. The universities were already in place to receive a budget cut of 31.5% from the State. The community colleges were in line for flat funding based on the 2015 Fiscal Year. The lack of funding should have never been allowed to happen. Politics in Springfield should not keep students from financial aid or from receiving an education.

Even after the passage of House Floor Amendment #2 to SB2043 there are a significant number of legislative bills being introduced to get funding to the campuses (SB2043 does not include universities.) Governor Rauner states that he will veto SB2043. The question at hand is will there be legislators to come forward for a legislative override?

For more State financial information please take some time to listen to Comptroller Leslie Munger’s Press Conference this past week. She details problems associated with an increase of $1.2 Billion more in spending this Fiscal Year. The State is currently down $5 Billion in revenue due to the lowering of the State Income Tax. Add these two figures together and the State is $6.2 Billion further in debt. Causing more concern is a $7 Billion backlog of bills. By the end of Fiscal Year 2016, the State will be behind $10 – $12 Billion. She adds that since the State cannot claim bankruptcy the residents of Illinois will have to pay the bill, which in order to come out ahead would have to be as much as a 7 to 8% State income tax. (currently 3.75%)

SUAA readers could be wondering why the funding of MAP Grants, universities and community colleges is being brought to your attention. According to SURS, 79% of our retirees live in Illinois and 69,381 active SURS members are working on our campuses or at other affiliated State agencies. The lack of funding not only hurts higher education as a whole, but in the longer run this undoubtedly destroys many of our communities where the universities and community colleges are quite prominent as employers and use local businesses.

Contacting Governor Rauner (use the link) should be at the top of your To Do List. He has made contacting him quite easy. Ask him to sign SB2043!

A letter to the editor in your local community paper is also quite advantageous! Get out those pens folks! As an employee or retiree you do have something to gain by speaking up!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SURS January 2016 Newsletter Online

The January 2016 edition of The Advocate is online now at http://www.surs.org/pdfs/advocate/Jan-2016-Advocate.pdf.

Check it out!

 
 

State of the State Address

State of the State Address

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner gave his annual State of the State Address to both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly today. Some highlights of his speech include another call to reform Illinois’ pension systems using a model that was once championed by Senate President John Cullerton in 2013. The model looks to reform pensions using consideration theory where something is given up in exchange for something else – in this instance the 3% compounded cost-of-living-allowance (COLA) would have to be given up in exchange for better healthcare benefits, or a pensioner could keep their 3% COLA but would risk receiving less desirable healthcare benefits.

Additionally, the Governor expressed the following reforms as part of his 2016 agenda:

– A desire to reform the state’s procurement code to speed up the bidding process for businesses in Illinois

– Worker’s compensation reform

– Tying compensation to performance and productivity for all AFSCME employees despite seniority

– Privatizing the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

– Selling the Thompson Center in Chicago

– Revamp the state’s K-12 education system by focusing additional resources on low income and rural school districts

Furthermore, Governor Rauner may have hinted at privatizing school districts when he said that he would like to, “Give school districts more flexibility when it comes to bargaining, contracting, and bidding, to save taxpayers money, while enabling districts to pay higher teacher salaries.” Democrats in the General Assembly, and some Republicans, would likely not support such legislation.

For more information, please click the following links to read the Governor’s entire speech, and see reaction interviews given by members of the General Assembly.

– State of the State Address: http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&RecNum=13470

– General Assembly members reaction: https://livestream.com/blueroomstream

Your reactions to the Governor’s remarks are encouraged.

Linda L Brookhart
Executive Director
State Universities Annuitants Association

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Link to Governor Rauner’s State of the State Address 1/27 at Noon CST

Below is the link to Governor Rauner’s State of the State Address tomorrow on Blueroomstream. Click on the link and then choose State of the State Address from the list of options.

http://livestream.com/blueroomstream

Or go to the ILGA.gov website and click on audio/video under House. The feed probably won’t start until noon.

http://www.ilga.gov/

Linda L Brookhart
Executive Director
State Universities Annuitants Association

NOTE: It looks like C-SPAN.org will also be streaming the address:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?403755-1/illinois-governor-bruce-rauner-state-state-address

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SUAA Pension Update 1.21.2016

Today, Governor Bruce Rauner put forward an outline for a pension plan that he believes will pass constitutional muster. His plan is based on a legal theory called “consideration in contracts.” The plan he outlined is said to mirror Senate President John Cullerton’s old proposal from 2013 in Senate Bill 2404. In that bill, Cullerton proposed to state workers that they choose two options: that they would keep their pension benefits without a guarantee of some health care or accept a less generous retirement plan with the guarantee of health benefits. When asked how much money he hoped to save from this plan, Governor Rauner said he would expect about $1 billion in savings on the Fiscal Year 2017 pension payment – down from $7.8 billion to $6.8 billion.

Senate President Cullerton has come out against Governor Rauner’s proposal though, stating “this is not my plan. It goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.” Additionally, Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement which indicates that his and Cullerton’s support for Governor Rauner’s plan is unlikely. His full statement is worth noting:

I have shown my commitment to achieving pension reform on a number of occasions over the last several years. The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the General Assembly cannot alter earned benefits. With the court’s guidance, we now have a clearer framework of what cannot be done in any future pension reform proposal. To avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on lawsuits, it’s important that we carefully consider the court’s direction when we take up pension reform proposals as we work to address the state’s unfunded pension debt while ensuring that retirees who have worked hard for decades will receive their retirement benefits.

The Governor said today that in exchange for negotiating on pension reform, he will continue to demand changes that will drive down the wages and standard of living of middle-class families. Despite the Governor’s desire to drive a wedge between Democrats in the House and Senate, neither President Cullerton nor I will agree to make changes proposed by the Governor that will hurt the middle-class families of our state.”

So what does that all mean for SUAA members, both retired and currently working? Our take is that the Speaker and the Senate President will not be looking to give the Governor any kind of a perceived “win.” The Speaker’s rhetoric is politically charged, however, it is important to note that he might be accepting that the Illinois Supreme Courts guidelines on the SB 1 Pension lawsuit ruling were clear – earned benefits are NOT up for bargaining.

For now, it seems that any new pension proposal – especially one that Governor Rauner supports – is going to meet a quick end in the General Assembly. Over the next few months the Governor and legislative leaders will likely continue to fight it out in the media over the budget impasse and how they will try to reform the pension system for the future. In the meantime, SUAA will continue to monitor the situation and do what is necessary to protect the pension rights and benefits of its membership in Springfield.

Linda L Brookhart
Executive Director
State Universities Annuitants Association

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Holidays from SUAA

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Discounted Long Term Care Insurance

The State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) strives to provide its membership with opportunities that will enhance their feeling of well-being and know that efforts have been made to protect family assets.

We don’t often think about how we will be cared for during illness unless we have already had an experience with a loved one. Nor do we consider the cost of the care that isn’t provided by Medicare or supplemental health insurance.

Therefore, SUAA is aligned with TK Partners & Associates, Inc. to bring a discounted Long Term Care Insurance Program to you. This discounted program is made available to all SUAA members and their family members who are under the age of 79.

There are several companies for you to select from. To request information about a Long Term Care Insurance Program click here or call 1.866.813.5443.

Remember, this program offers special discounts not available to the general public. The discounted premium is for you, your spouse, your partner, your parents, your siblings and your grandparents.

Please forward this information to a family member so you all can benefit from the program.

In good health!

Linda Brookhart
Executive Director

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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