Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Appeal Opposing HJRCA49:
SUAA Action on Your Behalf

Author: Richard Lockhart representing the State Universities Annuitants Association

April 17, 2012

Chairwoman Representative Nekritz
House Personnel and Pensions Committee

Dear Madame Chair:

Vote ‘No’ on HJRCA 49

Amending the Constitution of the State of Illinois is more about how it affects the next generation rather than the present. HJRCA 49 would be a very complex addition to our Constitution and should be subject to more objective analysis and a thorough legal review than in the time we have here today.

As I read it, this amendment affects all local governments and government services, including police and fire departments, education and more. It will affect government at every level for a very long time.

The State Universities’ Annuitant Association represents currently employed and retirees of the State University and Community College systems. Our members do not receive social security.

We believe this amendment to our Constitution will make it more difficult to attract and retain quality personnel at Illinois State-funded universities and colleges by placing conditions and strict procedural requirements on pension and retirement benefit increases. We also understand that the governing body for higher education in this State is the General Assembly. These requirements seem to put or would require the General Assembly to be in the business of setting salaries for those such as physics professors, grounds-keepers, plumbers and talented administrators employed in higher education. We believe this is the domain of the education sector.

This amendment also creates new definitions for the terms “new benefit,” “emolument increase” and “beneficial determination” which are neither defined in current statutes or in existing case law. These definitions, and other terms in this amendment, would likely generate a litigation that would result in delays and costs that will be borne by local governments, the State, our university system and other stakeholders.

Finally in section (d) of this amendment, the concluding paragraph would grant unprecedented powers to government that will undermine protections contained in the Pension Protection Clause and eliminate the uniform laws that now exist for State employee benefits and obligations in the Illinois Pension Code. This paragraph will allow every unit of local government to go its own way with respect to pensions, therefore ensuring a benefit gulf will emerge between the State’s retirement systems, geographic regions and citizens employed in a wide range of public sector occupations.

Again, we respectfully ask you vote no on HJRCA 49.

Richard Lockhart representing the State Universities Annuitants Association

cc: Members of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee

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