The [Friday] Papers
"Hundreds of thousands of poor Illinoisans would lose health coverage, prescription drug discounts for seniors would be dropped and dental care for adults would be greatly curtailed as part of $1.6 billion in budget cuts lawmakers approved Thursday," the Tribune reports.
Those frickin' Republicans! Oh, wait.
"Jones' good fortune comes courtesy of legislation he sponsored in 1989. Under that law, members of the General Assembly who worked long enough to hit their limit on pension benefits - a generous 85 percent of their final salary after just 20 years - would get an extra reward.
"For every additional year they stayed on, 3 percent of their initial pension would be added to their retirement checks. For Jones, working an extra 16 years netted him a $41,000 pension boost in 2009; he drew $126,004 last year.
"The 3 percent deal, available to no one in state government outside of the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS, is another in a long line of pension provisions written by lawmakers for lawmakers, a Tribune investigation found. It also stands as a glaring example of how the legislature repeatedly passed benefit increases with little or no concern for the costs.
"Jones was a direct sponsor of many of these questionable deals. In addition to helping long-serving state lawmakers, the former senator sponsored legislation that allowed Chicago aldermen to receive the most lucrative pensions in city government and gave labor leaders public pensions based on their private salaries."
Emil Jones was one of the hackiest pols in Illinois history. Guess who never said a thing?
See also: Obama's Political 'Godfather' In Illinois.
Though I think the media has conflated Obama's own descriptions of his relationships with Jones and Tony Rezko. My understanding is that he called Jones his political mentor and Rezko his political godfather, though that wouldn't explain Jones's ringtone. How about just The Three Amigos?
"House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton played roles in many of the pension perks now on the books but are quick to point out that most of the loopholes that allowed lawmakers to spike their pensions have been closed. The 3 percent perk ended in 2003.
"But anyone who was in office before those changes took effect can still benefit. And as lawmakers consider reforms, many of them say it would be unconstitutional to eliminate even the most outrageous pension perks once they've been bestowed.
"Take Madigan's case. If he retired this year after roughly 40 years in office, the 1989 law would boost his annual pension from about $81,000 to $131,000 according to current figures from GARS. That's 137 percent of his current salary. Cullerton's pension would go up by roughly $31,000 to $112,000 a year, or 117 percent of what he now earns. Both lawmakers helped advance, and eventually voted for, the legislation that created the perk for longtime lawmakers."
Madigan - who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party - refused to comment. Cullerton issued a statement. Jones blamed Republican governors.
Saying politics is an "inherent' part of the process argues that politics are inevitable; that they are built-in, like the laws of physics.
Did we forget the lesson of Patrick Fitzgerald 24 hours after he announced his resignation? Sheesh.
Choosing that tone makes the following passage seem an acceptable way of doing business, instead of a cycle that's been broken:
"Former Mayor Richard Daley and the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul Simon once clashed over the 1993 appointment of Jim Burns as the top federal prosecutor. Daley had backed Dick Devine, but Simon feared that Devine, once a top aide when Daley was Cook County state's attorney, was too close to Daley. Devine later was elected state's attorney himself."
And for all the trial baloney about the reconciliation of the Blago brothers when it was a nice (and strategic) narrative to propagate, Robert admits he hasn't spoken to Rod since the trial. Imagine.
"He made it to only three out of 12 Senate Education Committee meetings. He's the chairman. He gets $10,327 on top of his $67,836 Senate salary for chairing the committee."
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Posted on May 25, 2012
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