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Editorial: Teach for a day, get a pension for life:
2019 Apr 8, 8:30am 730 views 2 comments
The Illinois Supreme Court once again has illuminated for Illinois taxpayers the need to amend the rigid pension clause of the state constitution. The justices on Thursday upheld as constitutional a teacher pension for a retired lobbyist who substitute taught for one day.
Sub for a day. Pension for life. It’s outrageous. The Supreme Court continues to interpret the pension clause to the extreme.
The ruling upheld a controversial state law that allowed a lobbyist for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, David Piccioli, to become certified as a substitute teacher in December 2006 by working one day at a Springfield elementary school — and to buy pension credit for his 10 previous years working as a lobbyist. That sweet deal qualified him for a pension windfall from a teachers retirement fund that as of late 2018 carried an unfunded liability of more than $75 billion-with-a-B. Because he also draws a pension from a previous job as a House Democratic aide, Piccioli’s total pension income now rises to nearly $100,000. His pensionable income from the Teachers’ Retirement System is based off his salary from the IFT— another questionable pension loophole, which the Supreme Court upheld last year.
A pension bill signed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2007 allowed Piccioli to retroactively count his years lobbying toward a teacher pension if he taught for one day in the public schools. He bought service credits for his years lobbying and began collecting a pension when he retired from the IFT in 2012.
Even legislative Democrats, IFT backers included, questioned the deal and tried to claw it back by passing a law that Thursday’s ruling invalidates. “That's not characteristic of the common, hardworking public-sector worker who makes a modest income and has a modest retirement benefit," then-Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said in 2011 when the Tribune and WGN-TV exposed the deal. “It gives people the impression of otherwise.”
Last year the court upheld a dubious loophole that allowed government employees who left those jobs to work for their union in the private sector to still qualify for a public pension — with payouts based on their much higher salaries in their union roles. One example: Former Chicago labor boss Dennis Gannon, who started out working for the city, was able to retire at age 50 with a city pension based on his union salary of at least $240,000.
The Supreme Court upheld that arrangement too. Together the rulings suggest the court will continue to protect pensions of any variety, even those gained through an obscurity or loophole or special deal, as long as the workers got away with it. The most recent ruling supporting Piccioli’s pension was 4-3 with Justices Mary Jane Theis, Robert Thomas and Rita Garman wisely dissenting.
Voters could clamor to elect justices who won’t interpret the pension clause so tightly. Or they can push their state lawmakers to put a pension clause amendment on the ballot to loosen the restriction that pensions cannot be “diminished or impaired.” It’s the only rescue for Illinois.
2019 Apr 8, 8:36am
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We just need to get back to discussing how to raise taxes and give MOAR power to the government like the crooks in Illinois.
2019 Apr 8, 8:55am
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CA is same shit. They get double pensions here. Check out the DROP program as a good example.
All government employees don’t give a shit about public, they just spoke pensions through bribes to fuck public.
one year ago