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  #71  
Old 03-25-2016, 10:50 AM
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CTU STRIKE

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chi...owdown-strike/

Quote:
CTU votes yes to April 1 ‘showdown’ strike

The Chicago Teachers Union voted Wednesday evening to approve a one-day “showdown” strike on April 1 — which will include a massive downtown rally — to bring attention to ongoing contract negotiations and the state’s education funding crisis.

“I think it’ll be a clear message. Based on the current organizing, we’ll shut this city down,” Tammie Vinson, a special education teacher at Oscar DePriest Elementary School said after the vote at the International Operating Engineers Hall.

But the vote — 486 in favor, 124 opposed — was hardly unanimous, and some teachers expressed doubts about the amorphous action after seeing the motive change over the past few weeks.

Still, CTU President Karen Lewis said the numbers show teachers are ready to fight.

“This house is ready and united,” Lewis said.

The April 1 action will include picketing in the morning and a downtown rally in front of the Thompson Center.

“Strikes are about withholding labor because the labor conditions have come to a point where they’re not tolerable. We’re working under conditions that seem to be extremely unfair to our people,” Lewis said.

....
The 27,000 union members have been working without a new contract since June 30. Recently, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool imposed three unpaid furlough days on all CPS workers, the first one on Friday.

.....
Initially, Lewis and the union were reacting to Claypool’s threat to halt a 7 percent pension payment CPS had been making for teachers and other CTU staffers since the ’80s. After Claypool agreed to leave the pension benefit in place, the union accused CPS of an unfair labor practice for stopping raises given for experience and ongoing education last year.

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  #72  
Old 03-25-2016, 10:51 AM
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MOODY'S

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/moody...-pension-debt/

Quote:
MOODY’S: CHICAGO PENSION-REFORM RULING MEANS INCREASED FINANCIAL PRESSURE, RAPIDLY GROWING PENSION DEBT

The Illinois Supreme Court’s overturning of Chicago’s modest pension reform means Chicago faces higher pension contributions, rapidly growing pension debt and an increased risk of total insolvency for its pension funds.

The Illinois Supreme Court on March 24 struck down Chicago’s modest reforms of the city’s municipal and laborers pension systems. Now that the law has been struck down, Chicago is back to square one in terms of pension reform. Moody’s Investors Service predicts that in light of this decision, city-worker pension costs will rise significantly over the next 15 years.

Had it not been struck down, Chicago’s pension-reform law would have required taxpayers to put more into the pension funds going forward, and would have slightly increased city workers’ contributions to their own retirements. It would have also reduced cost-of-living adjustments and instituted a funding guarantee for the two pension systems.

The plan was far from ideal, but it did reduce some of the long-term financial pressure on the city and opened the door to future reforms.

Thanks to an analysis by Moody’s Investors Service, Chicago residents know how much worse the city’s pension crisis is going to get in the wake of the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling.

In November 2015, Moody’s released a special report that analyzed four different pension scenarios for Chicago based on two separate developments:

Whether Gov. Bruce Rauner would sign a bill allowing Chicago to extend its timeline to repay police and fire pensions by 15 years, reducing the financial burden on the city in the short term. If the governor doesn’t sign the bill, city contributions to the police and fire pension funds will increase by $500 million in 2016, and will continue to increase year after year.

Whether the Illinois Supreme Court would ultimately uphold the city’s reforms to the municipal and laborers pension systems – which increased city contributions to the funds in the short term, but included benefit reforms that cut pension costs in the long term.
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  #73  
Old 03-25-2016, 01:03 PM
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http://www.wsj.com/articles/chicago-...are-1458861442

Quote:
The hits keep coming for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On Thursday the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the city’s pension reform, which required city workers to chip in more to their retirement plans, raised the retirement age and cut back on cost-of-living adjustments. But there may be a silver lining for the fiscal basket case known as Illinois.

....
The ruling may be better news for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who has been trying to reform the state pensions amid a hostile Democratic legislature. The court said in its Chicago ruling that a reform would be constitutional if workers had a choice to go into a modified or lower-benefit structure.

Mr. Rauner has endorsed the outline of a plan created by state Senate President John Cullerton that would let workers choose between capping their pensionable salary and collecting more generous cost-of-living increases during retirement, or collecting slightly lower cost-of-living increases during retirement based on a higher pensionable salary.

Mr. Cullerton has since distanced himself from his own handiwork under union pressure, but something will have to give or Illinois and the City of Big Unfunded Pension Obligations will go broke.

http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/region...1099678-1.html

Quote:
CHICAGO – The Illinois Supreme Court sent Chicago back to the drawing board to fix two pension funds that account for half of a $20 billion unfunded pension burden that has dragged down the city's credit.

In an 18-page opinion released Thursday, the state's high court upheld Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak's July ruling that declared the 2014 overhaul of the city's municipal employees' and laborers' funds unconstitutional because of benefit cuts imposed on retirees and employees.

.....
"In the short run it buys them some relief and time but the city has had time to prepare for the decision and the market is going to expect a quick reaction from the city on what its contingency plan is," said Richard Ciccarone, president of Merritt Research Services LLC.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered little detail on potential solutions.

"My administration will continue to work with our labor partners on a shared path forward that preserves and protects the municipal and laborers' pension funds, while continuing to be fair to Chicago taxpayers and ensuring the city's long-term financial health," his statement said.

Any prolonged setback in tackling the city's pension ills could drive further downgrades and impact the trading value of its debt and future borrowing rates. Chicago's ratings plummeted over the last several years, primarily due to the pension strain.

It carries a junk-level rating of Ba1 from Moody's Investors Service, with a negative outlook; BBB-plus ratings from both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's with both assigning negative outlooks; and is rated A-minus with a negative outlook by Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

Moody's recently warned that a "failure of the city to develop and implement an alternate plan to fund non-public safety pensions should the Illinois Supreme Court rule the city's 2014 reform statute unconstitutional" could drive a downgrade.

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  #74  
Old 03-25-2016, 01:40 PM
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http://www.governing.com/topics/fina...-finances.html

Quote:
Chicago’s Shockingly Bad Finances
You’ve probably read about the Windy City’s money problems. But chances are they're worse than you thought, and a recent ruling didn't help.

You’ve probably read headlines about the Windy City’s financial woes. About how Chicago’s years of borrowing to pay for its operations has finally caught up to it. About how inadequate funding of its pensions has saddled it with huge annual payments.

But unless you’ve been paying close attention, chances are Chicago is worse off than you think.

The numbers are staggering. The city has about $34 billion in outstanding debt, with roughly $20 billion of that coming from its five pension plans. That’s compared with a little more than $9 billion total annual budget. The teachers’ retirement fund is short about $9.6 billion and owes an additional $6 billion to bondholders. The outstanding bonds alone exceed the system’s annual $5.8 billion budget. Overall, Chicago Public Schools has struggled to sell enough bond debt to get through the current year, and the system is even facing a possible state takeover. Both the city and the school system’s credit ratings have been downgraded to junk status.
.....
But many say the half-billion-dollar infusion is just one step on the road to recovery. For one, the tax increase, which represents a 70 percent hike in city property taxes, won’t completely shore up the city’s pension funds. And in March, the state Supreme Court struck down the city's attempt to increase employee pension contributions and reduce cost-of-living increases for retirees. Without those in place, Chicago will likely face hundreds of millions more in pension costs.

The city could raise more revenue through additional tax increases. But that would be a big feat, given the controversy over last year’s property tax hike. Chicago has long prided itself on being a lower-tax city: Even with last year’s increase, Chicago homeowners still pay less in property taxes than their counterparts in the suburbs, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis. Raise taxes too much, and the middle class could flee.

As Chicago fully addresses its spending mismatch, says Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics, the city could face some serious soul-searching. “Keeping the middle class in the city might be an old-fashioned idea,” says Fabian. “If they keep workers local, [officials] have more people voting for them -- that’s how the political machine works. But maybe that’s not the way anymore.”

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  #75  
Old 03-27-2016, 01:33 PM
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Illinois Supreme court says Chicago can't cut future pension obligations. (indirect link to WSJ)

Quote:
Both this ruling and the one that preceded it were unanimous, with the court’s three Republican justices joining its Democrats in ruling that the constitution’s “shall not be diminished or impaired” clause protects all current public employee benefits from any adjustments, even if the government is approaching insolvency. The ruling is a reminder of how deeply entrenched the blue model is in state and local government structures; even when reform-minded Democrats push through modest changes in deep blue jurisdictions, they stand to be derailed by longstanding constitutional provisions and a judiciary bound to uphold them. Amending the Illinois constitution is a daunting task, requiring a supermajority vote in both houses and supermajority approval in a statewide referendum.
The Windy City now needs to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to rectify its crumbling fiscal situation. Given that benefits for the unionized public sector are largely off limits, City Hall will likely need to raise taxes (thereby becoming even less attractive to business investment) or else scale back services like criminal justice, education and welfare (further eroding confidence in the government, especially among minority communities) or—perhaps most likely—continue more-or-less on its current course in the hopes that a federal bailout might be forthcoming.
The Tribune has more.

3/5 of each house, wait six months, submit to the people, and 3/5 of those who vote.
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Last edited by Len Myers; 03-27-2016 at 01:38 PM..
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  #76  
Old 03-31-2016, 12:39 PM
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CREDIT RATING

http://www.pionline.com/article/2016...pension-ruling

Quote:
Chicago credit rating slammed in wake of pension ruling
BY MEAGHAN KILROY | MARCH 29, 2016 3:42 PM | UPDATED 3:46 PM

The Illinois Supreme Court’s rejection of a 2014 pension reform law for two Chicago pension funds is a “credit negative” for Chicago, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Tuesday.

Tuesday’s announcement does not signify a rating or outlook change but aims to show one of the many credit factors affecting Chicago. Moody's downgraded Chicago's credit rating to junk in May, citing pension concerns.

.....
The Moody’s announcement came on the heels of a credit downgrade by Fitch Ratings. Fitch on Monday lowered Chicago’s credit rating two steps to BBB-, one step above junk, also citing the March 24 ruling.

......
The laborers’ plan returned a net -1.5% in 2015, according to an online performance report. Information on the municipal plan could not immediately be learned.

.....
Fitch in its report said the outlook for Chicago is negative.

“Fitch believes last week's Illinois Supreme Court ruling striking down pension reform legislation for two of the city of Chicago's four pension plans was among the worst of the possible outcomes for the city's credit quality,” said the ratings agency in an e-mail. “Not only did it strike down the pension reform legislation in its entirety, but it made clear that the city bears responsibility to fund the promised pension benefits, even if the pension funds become insolvent.”

The city has projected the municipal employees and laborers pension funds, with roughly $7 billion and $720 million in unfunded liabilities, respectively, could become insolvent in 2026 and 2029. The overturned law aimed to increase both the municipal and laborers’ pension funding levels to 90% by end of 2055, up from 41% and 64%, respectively, at the end of 2014.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said last week that the Supreme Court’s decision shows the need for additional action by the city, but there was no ratings change. S&P lowered Chicago’s general obligation bond to BBB+ from A- in July.

Chicago faces roughly $20 billion in unfunded liabilities across its four pension funds.

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  #77  
Old 03-31-2016, 05:09 PM
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not Chicago debt, but it is Chicago stats

shooting & homicide stats, that is:
http://heyjackass.com/

This is probably my fave stat
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  #78  
Old 03-31-2016, 05:45 PM
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Wake me up when Chicago homicides drop, pensions default, or Fred Hoiberg gets fired.
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  #79  
Old 04-01-2016, 12:12 PM
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CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
ONE-DAY STRIKE

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...school-system/

Quote:
CHICAGO — Thousands of Chicago teachers walked off the job Friday amid stalled contract negotiations, a one-day strike that union leaders described as an effort to pressure state lawmakers to address the dire financial outlook of the city’s public schools and colleges.

.....
Karen Lewis, president of the 27,000-member Chicago Teachers Union, said she hopes the disruption puts pressure on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), whose standoff with the Democratic legislature has left the state without a budget for nine months, squeezing public schools and universities and low-income students who depend on state-funded scholarships.

....
The union — recognizing that a financially crippled school system is limited in its ability to hire more teachers or boost compensation — also is calling for lawmakers to reform the state’s education funding formula.

Illinois has the nation’s most unfair school funding formula, according to an analysis by the national advocacy group Education Trust, which found that the highest-poverty schools get roughly 20 percent fewer state and local dollars per pupil than schools in more affluent communities.

“Tax the rich to fund our schools,” read union signs Friday.

Chicago’s school district, the nation’s third largest, is undeniably broke. It faces a growing structural deficit, largely due to growing pension payments, including a $700 million payment due in June.

This year it has a $480 billion budget gap that Chicago officials hoped to plug with help from state lawmakers; absent that assistance, they have sought to save money with employee layoffs, borrowing and furlough days.

The system’s financial troubles have created an opening for Rauner, who has threatened to take over the city’s schools. His spokeswoman did not reply to a request for comment.


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Old 04-01-2016, 03:42 PM
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CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...330-story.html

Quote:
Chico remembers when lawmakers, union leaders, school administrators and others would gather in a room and negotiate a deal to ward off CPS' financial mess. "There was a will," Chico said.

That kind of political will has yet to emerge this time. CPS tried to push lawmakers to fill a $480 million budget hole this school year but came back empty-handed. Since then, the district has borrowed another $725 million, pushing its debt load to nearly $7 billion.

For the second year in a row, the state has placed CPS under "financial watch" for spending more than it takes in, draining reserves and heavily borrowing. Plus, the district is struggling to maintain sufficient cash to operate on a day-to-day basis, forcing it to borrow against future property tax collections to help make ends meet.

Chicago is not alone in struggling financially — almost 60 percent of districts are deficit-spending — but only 32 of about 850 districts fell into the worse "watch" category.

District officials say the fundamental problem has been that CPS has long been unfairly treated in the way the state divvies funds for public education and pays for teacher pensions.

There is growing consensus between the teachers' union and the district that Chicago's schools need more revenue not only to survive but to achieve a contract deal that would avert an open-ended strike later this year.

"We understand there needs to be revenue for the schools and not revenue that comes in the middle of next year," Sharkey said. "That's not going to help us get school doors open, or prevent a takeover or prevent layoffs when school's starting next year. We think April is going to be a critical time for debating revenue in Springfield."

.....
"Illinois has the most inequitable education funding system in the nation, where poorer districts spend as little as $6,000 per student while wealthier districts spend up to $30,000 per student," Ostro said in a statement.

CPS spends $15,120 per pupil, based on the most recent school finance data statewide. That compares with the state average of $12,521.

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