What measures will you vote for to reform the city pension plan and ensure its solvency?


I support the recent measures to reform the Municipal Employees and Laborers pension plan and believe that this will lead to the financial security of the retirees as well as make the plans more solvent.

The city’s police and fire pension funds have been called a “ticking time bomb,” with
the pension commission predicting that funds will run out of money. “There is no lowor
no-cost solution to this problem,” the commission wrote in a report. “Deferring action
is not a viable option.” I have a plan that works to bring the pension funds to solvency.
This includes paying down existing debt obligation with the cost benefit of alleviating
the taxpayers of the delay tactic, nicknamed “scoop and toss.”
I believe that once an employee starts paying into a pension program, the
benefits should be clear and concrete. As a lawyer, I also believe that the equitable (and
legal) thing to do is to honor the originally “fully negotiated agreement.” But these
Pension programs need to become properly funded, and I would support identifying a
dedicated revenue source strictly to replenish our depleted pension funds. As a last
resort, and in a worst case scenario, I could support reduced benefits for future
employees based on negotiations and conversations with organized labor that provides
for everyone’s needs. It’s important to work together to responsibly solve our financial
problems while protecting the rights of our working class.

No response provided

Being a recipient of a city pension I would support legislation that prohibits increases in insurance
premiums of its retirees. I would also make dedicated pension revenue part of any agreement for a
casino or financial transaction tax in Chicago

Increase in the city contributions in properly funding pension plans from new revenue

The City Council and the Illinois General Assembly are going to face some major challenges in 2015. However, we have yet to see a comprehensive budget proposal take shape in either elected body to address the pension crisis.
As I indicated in an earlier response, I would support a graduated income tax as long as it had a fair tier structure. I support a casino for the City of Chicago. I am in favor of a sales tax on large-scale finance transactions, the so-called LaSalle Street Tax.

This is
an extremely complicated and critical topic. I have heard many arguments based on
emotion, pure numbers or “pie in the sky” solutions that do not address the full picture of
the environment. As an accountant, it is very important for me to fully understand the
financial impact of any proposed changes before making a sound decision.

If the
city’s benefits package has to change, I believe those changes would have to take into
account the worker’s seniority. Long-term workers should be impacted the least, and
newer workers should be given access to a range of plans from which to choose.

For years the City has simply shirked its responsibility to properly fund pensions. City workers
kept their end of the bargain by showing up to work and by making their contributions. In addition,
the Illinois constitution prohibits making changes to the benefits they have earned. As a result,
any solution requires additional revenue. I support expanding the tax base transferring TIF
surpluses to increase revenue.

I would require that the City no longer delay payment in the pension systems of our public
employees. In order to meet our obligation, I will also champion those new and creative
revenue sources above and require that it be used towards to the payment of our pension debt.

No response provided

Growth is the key to the funding of the police and fire pension fund. At present, all the
proposed solutions are aimed at reducing the pensions of those who put their faith and
their money into a pension plan. The shortfall is not the fault of the public servants of
the city whose pensions run from a modest $34,000 a year to a still pretty modest
$78,000 a year for a retired teacher.
Grow the economy, restore full positions to the police force so that there are more
contributions into the pension fund, make certain that the investments of the pension
funds are sound (the stock market has never been higher, those heights should help
pension funding).
If taxes are needed, don’t use the regressive ‘fees’ that are currently in place – which the
Tribune reported added up to $481 per household per year over the past four years. They place the burden on the working people of the city. Better to use property taxes or
income taxes.

Stephen Niketopoulos IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council

I think starting with TIF money, we should be able to fill some of the gap. New revenue streams can assist in future payments while holding the city back from attacking retirees health benefits. If we continue to mismanage so many funds and push the problem off year after year, we are getting closer to bankruptcy. Instead of having a forced restructuring, Chicago needs to voluntarily come up with a plan of action to avoid creating an economic crisis beyond our current levels. Simply fixing the books to avoid hiring and payments into pensions is inexcusable. I think a state sales tax would also help to solve the issue.

I would recommend bonds as a means for pension dollars, I would also recommend that we do similar to what the state has done, new employees will need to be assessed differently and have to contribute more towards their pension.

Property tax increase but with caps for seniors and those under a certain income. A
transfer of TIF surplus dollars.

No response provided

To ensure the solvency of our city pension system we must find new revenue to help the
city meet its obligations. We need to implement progressive revenue options like a LaSalle
Street Tax or a commuter tax. As we continue to look to find revenue options to meet our
pension and other long term debt obligations we must be careful to not over burden the
working men and women of Chicago with crippling tax increases

The City of Chicago has the contractual and moral obligation to properly fund the police (and other) pension funds. The City needs to make its expected actuarial required contribution (ARC) payments as is now required by law. Increased costs to police officers (and other pension fund members) and investments proceeds will not alone solve the problem. The City needs to find additional sources of revenues and direct them towards the massive pension debt that Chicago leadership has created for itself. TIF money can be used to help shore up the pension funds as can revenue that is created by building a casino in Chicago and the Peotone airport. A carefully structured commuter tax, a financial transaction tax, and recouping taxpayer money that was lost during CPS’ interest rate swap arrangements brings in additional revenue that can help alleviate the pension problem. If these solutions are not enough, as a last resort, we will need to raise taxes to make sure that Chicago pays off its obligations and continues to function.

Susan Sadlowski Garza IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council

candidate's responce

This is complex situation that needs much more time than I can provide via this questionnaire.

We must keep our contractual obligations, even if it means using some of the Tax Increment
Financing surplus to ensure pension solvency. Keeping our contractual obligations should be
seen as an emergency that requires extraordinary measures

Michael E. LaFargue IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council

The combined deficit for Chicago’s four funds swelled to $19.8 billion in fiscal 2012 from $5.4
billion in 2003, the report said. (TIF Reserves $1.5 billion can pay 15% of the $20 billon pensions
or 6 % of todays $26.8 in unfunded pension liability)
There is allegedly $1.7 billion the city has in TIF reserves right now. It is believed that $1.5 billion
has been not been committed projects.
If the city can break promises to pay workers a certain pension, it can break certain TIF deals.
State law establishes retirement plans for all public employees in Illinois, including those
employed by the City and its sister agencies. Employees of the City of Chicago participate in one
of four pension funds:
1. Municipal Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago (MEABF)
2. Laborers' & Retirement Board Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund (LABF)
3. Policemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund (PABF)
4. Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund (FABF)
Two other funds that cover employees of certain sister agencies of the City.
5. Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF)
6. Park Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund (PEABF)

No response provided

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council

I support reasonable reforms to eliminate all double-dipping and abuse of our pension system.
Ultimately it was Chicago’s elected leaders – not public workers – who failed to keep up with their
pension contributions. I will advocate for new sources of revenue to meet our pension liability, this
includes a commuter tax at Chicago-based corporations hiring non-Chicago workers, a LaSalle
Street Tax to close a major corporate tax loophole, and a fair tax to lift the tax burden off of
working families.

Inevitably, in order to responsibly shore up our retirement funds, we need to generate more revenue through taxes or creative reinvestment in communities at the same time we work to increase contribution levels, reduce COLAs or increase the retirement age. I would increase revenue by siphoning money from my least favorite revenue sources: red light and speed camera tickets, which I believe are regressively placed around the city and need reform in the form of yellow light timing if they are to be kept in place, but I am reluctant to eliminate a revenue source from our city budget in times of fiscal crisis. I would take the projected $150 million annual revenue from speed camera tickets and $11 million in red light tickets and earmark it for pensions.

I will sponsor/propose the reducing of the TIF surplus and immediately release the rest to fund the
police, fire fighters and teacher pension plan.

At this time I could not vote for any measure of reform for the city pension plan ensuring solvency

I feel that the city could do a better job in managing mid/top
level managers to better reflect levels in private industry

No response provided

Many difficult decisions will have to be made. At this time the pension solution is directly tied to
what the Supreme Court and the State Legislature will do, as it relates to pensions. Then a clear
and long term answer can be offered for the pension and the overall financial health of the city.

No response provided

Any reform that ensures that the pensions are not diminished and include raising additional revenue
by shutting down TIF’s, returning vast sums of TIF surplus and considering selective taxes – such
as the LaSalle Street transaction tax – that do no impact low to middle income residents.

The reality is that we have two methods we can pursue to reach pension solvency: reduce
pension benefits, or raise revenues (or both). For current and former employees, the courts have
sharply constrained our ability to reduce benefits, as is consistent with the state’s constitution and
the promises that were made. For future employees, I believe we need to figure out what is an
attractive package of retirement and other benefits that will ensure a steady flow of good
candidates but reduce demands on city funds in the future. On the revenue side, I firmly believe
that long-term, our surest path to solvency is accelerating economic development. Short-term, I
support a progressive income tax, and I’m open to other ideas, but I will stand firm against nickeland-diming
my constituents.

There is no easy solution to the pension crisis, nor is there a fair solution. Those who worked hard for their pensions deserve to receive what they were promised, even if they were promised much more than they should have been and much more than we can afford. Residents are already struggling under the weight of government taxes and fees. Politicians in Springfield and Chicago over­promised and under budgeted, and now after years of kicking the can down the road our current elected officials are faced with this crisis. Changes for future retirees are easier to make, in that we need to bring their pensions in alignment with that of the private sector, and steps have already been made in this direction. However, that doesn’t solve today’s crisis.
The “easiest” solution for politicians would be to blame Springfield’s inaction for the crisis and then increase taxes, mostly in the form of a property tax hike, but I do not support that. Taxpayers are already paying enough, and our economy is already lagging behind that of surrounding regions. While we need to continue to urge the State to take substantive, constitutional action, there are steps we can take here at home beyond simply raising taxes. We must bring all sides together to agree on the necessary compromises that will allow us to withstand this crisis. Everyone has skin in the game, and it’s time that everyone sat down and had an honest conversation about where we are and where we are headed. If no concessions are given, pension spending will swallow the rest of our budget whole, leaving us even less to spend on education and public safety. I believe that if such an honest and open dialog were to occur, we could balance concessions with consideration for current and soon­to­be retirees and find a path forward. The key is to ensure that all “share in the pain” of resolving this crisis. Right now, it is taxpayers that are feeling the pain most, by having to give more and more to plug budget holes and pay for benefits that are far out of line with any benefits they might receive in the private sector. I do not support increasing taxpayers’ pain as part of this solution.

Joseph J. Moseley II IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council


I am supportive of the creation of new revenue and a reduction in unnecessary spending. The
proposed reform is unconstitiutional in that it diminished the value of the public employee
benefits and healthcare.

The city
did not do its part in paying into the pension, which has caused the pension crisis. Employees
should contribute more. Also, address the age at which pensioners can draw on their pension.
Increase the age at which employees can draw from their pensions. Everyone has to be willing to
share in the pain of addressing the pension problem. It is our collective interest.

As a future retiree (hopefully, in the distant future) whose City pension will be my primary source
of retirement income, I have a vested interest in this issue. I believe in a balanced approach that
includes both new revenue to the pension funds and modest changes to benefits received by
current and future pensioners.
In fashioning a remedy, we should always keep in mind that our City employees and retirees did
not cause this crisis. They paid their contributions to funds at the statutorily required amounts. Our
political leadership failed the employees by refusing to take into account the actuarial consequences of providing increased benefits and early retirement programs without the financial
resources necessary to pay for them. And their union leadership failed them by advocating for
increased benefits without challenging Springfield to provide the necessary revenue.
That being said, the taxpayers simply cannot afford to carry the sole burden of resolving the
pension crisis. The unfunded liability is simply too great. Modest changes to the benefits received
by current and future pensioners must also be part of the calculus. As much as I would like to
receive a guaranteed 3% annual compounded COLA on my pension, such a benefit simply is not
sustainable and the pension system will collapse under its own weight if such benefits are allowed
to continue. In short, as a future City pensioner, I would rather receive a slightly reduced pension
benefit than no pension at all.
In determining exactly what burden the pensioners should be asked to bear, a sliding scale
should be applied. Those slated to receive larger pensions should bear a greater sacrifice than a
pensioner receiving a very modest pension.
The agreement reached between then Emanuel Administration and the leadership of the Police
Sergeant’s Union was a balanced approach and served as a useful roadmap for the other
pension funds. The agreement required significant financial sacrifice on the part of the City, as
well as some sacrifice from those receiving pensions. I hope as the union membership realizes
that the future security of their pension fund is at stake, they will revisit the proposal.
The City undoubtedly will be required to provide significantly more revenue to resolve the pension
crisis. Until the Illinois Supreme Court provides clarity on just how much the pension fund benefits
can be changed, it is difficult to determine the exact scope of revenues and service cuts that will
be needed.

The city pension problem is a problem caused by previous administrations not contributing their
part to the pension funds, supported by my incumbent alderman’s vote every year for 20 years
and it wont be solved easily. Dedicating assets that produce revenue streams, reallocating
surplus TIF funds and considering later retirement ages for employees not near retirement age,
with consideration for jobs of high physical stress, and as a last resort, looking at other forms of
new revenues.

A pension is a promise. The courts have been clear that pension benefits offered to existing
workers cannot be diminished. All options need to be on the table to ensure we dedicate proper
funding to the mismanaged City pension funds and protect vulnerable retirees on a fixed
income. I have discussed potential revenue-raising options above. I also believe we need help
from the State to fund teacher pensions.

No response provided

Chevette A. Valentine IVI-IPO 2015 Chicago City Council

The city
pension issues are that which require a serious overhaul facing its current status. I will
work to reform and rebuild the pensions, protecting the rights of the workers who have
earned such rights.

The city pension problem is a problem caused by previous administrations not contributing their
part to the pension funds, supported by my incumbent alderman’s vote every year for 20 years
and it wont be solved easily. Dedicating assets that produce revenue streams, reallocating
surplus TIF funds and considering later retirement ages for employees not near retirement age,
with consideration for jobs of high physical stress, and as a last resort, looking at other forms of
new revenues