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Palatine taxpayers are up in arms over a new union contract that locks in giant raises — and multimillion dollar pension payouts — for public school teachers and administrators.

One of the school board members who approved the plan, Gerald D. Chapman, is currently collecting a $234,745 per year, taxpayer-funded pension himself, or $19,562 per month.

Comment: The looting of Illinois continues unabated. How these people can look themselves in the mirror is as perplexing as how voters can let them get away with it.

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J.A. Herzrent
School board members probably have immunity from personal liability but even if they were liable as fiduciaries, their personal wealth is unlikely to be sufficient to pay for the harm they have caused. State and federal constitutions forbid taking of “property” without due process and fair compensation. State and federal constitutions forbid laws that “impair contracts” and the Illinois Constitution declares pension rights to be “contract rights.” The state itself cannot file for bankruptcy unless the federal law is amended. Bankruptcy, where authorized, is part of the answer. The rest of the answer is to elect legislators who will refuse to appropriate further funds to pension trusts… Read more »
James Gordon
Mr. Herzrent, I agree with much of what you’ve said but take exception to one sentence: “The rest of the answer is to elect legislators who will refuse to appropriate further funds to pension trusts and refuse to raise taxes.” That’s basically the logic some have called “starving the beast” of funding pensions, and its an idea periodically promoted on WirePoints by various people. But, the IL Supreme Court seemed to take a proactive stance agains the purposeful underfunding of the Chicago’s various pension funds in its most recent decision some 2-3 months against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to reduce the retiree benefits and/or increase the… Read more »
J.A. Herzrent
This is a thoughtful answer and warrants a thoughtful reply. My time is committed for the next few hours, but I do have some thoughts that I will share. A fundamental issue is “separation of powers” and the court simply does not have the power to intrude on matters left to the legislature (such as taxation and appropriation). In Washington State the court is trying to bring an intractable legislature into line on school funding and the court has purported to fine the legislature $100,000 per day until the legislature enacts a law that can pass constitutional scrutiny. However, to pay the fine, the legislature would have… Read more »
J.A. Herzrent
Mr Gordon. This will supplement my earlier rushed response. The IL Supreme Court is interpreting the state’s constitution and holding that pensions earned + pensions expected + health insurance expected are “contract rights” which cannot be impaired. The Court also has held that legislative attempts to reduce the foregoing would violate that provision of the constitution. In a decision issued about the same time (last February) the Court also stated “The power to appropriate for the expenditure of public funds is vested exclusively in the General Assembly; no other branch of government holds such power.” In my view, the Court has power to invalidate legislative action but… Read more »
James Gordon
Mr. Herzrent, you’ve given me yet more food for thought regarding your latest response about what should be done about honoring the admittedly huge (or maybe even insurmountable) public pension funding liabilities at almost every level of government in IL. I’m not a lawyer, so what I think may not be accurate in a legal sense, I admit. Yet, we all have to think about what should be done to avert the dooms-day scenarios you’ve suggested if this matter is ultimately solved with some sense of justice to all affected. Your basic argument is that the IL Supreme Court has no power to take action to enforce… Read more »
J.A. Herzrent
Mr. Gordon. I will have to go back to the books to provide an answer — if there is one. A preliminary answer appears to be that there are “continuing appropriation” provisions in some statutes. See (I don’t know if that is the only operative order or even the one that is currently in force.) This was apparently a “consent order” and I note that certain pensions and health plans are on the list of expenditures that require continuing appropriations. The order directs the Comptroller to issue checks based on continuing appropriation language found in enumerated statutes as well as in other non-enumerated statutes. The fact… Read more »
J.A. Herzrent
Mr. Gordon: Here’s some additional info on “continuing appropriations” in Illinois. The bottom line is that continuing appropriation provisions are valid so long as total appropriations do not exceed estimated available revenues. I THINK that means that the state official in charge of writing checks must continue to write checks for appropriated funds (including those mandated by “continuing appropriations”provisions ) so long as the total of those checks doesn’t exceed estimated available revenues. It isn’t clear how obligations would be “cut back” if total appropriations exceed estimated available revenues. The quotes are from 82 A.L.R.6th 497 which tells most any reader more than he/she wants to know.… Read more »
James Gordon
Mr. Herzent, I want to recognize and thank you for your considerable time, interest and apparent expertise in responding to my posts here on what should be done regarding public employee pensions underfunding and benefits going forward. You’ve put way more effort, talent and patient politeness in your remarks than seems to be the norm among many WirePoints respondents and in our society in general, I hate to say. I hope many people have read your well-versed and encompassing remarks on this set of problems we’ve discussed, and certainly I’d hope that some in positions of power have read your thoughts or will do so in the… Read more »
He only took what was his deal. The real crime is that we have 2 classes government and private. Those that work for the government have a special constitution clause that has a “ratchet effect”, meaning however largess government pensions get, they can never get “smaller”, just like a car jack ratchet it can only go up never down unless you release the latch. Private 401K’s have no such constitutional protection against market forces eroding our self-funded 401K investments. Sure he got a sweet deal. But the real crime is that a constitutional clause even exists which only applies to the very people who write that constitution.… Read more »
Tom the Victim Taxpayer
This is organized theft– almost organized crime. This guy is scum. There is no justification for this kind of payment when it is funded from property taxes on my house. Where is the US attorney on this? How about Lisa Madigan? Do we have any law enforcement in this state? So a guy who did an undistinguished job for a few years gets to rip us off for millions and millions? Why not pay him a hundred million. At what point does it get law enforcement’s attention. Or how about a fiduciary obligation lawsuit against the school board members individually for allowing this to happen? Are we… Read more »

What will happen when the police pension funds collapse?

J.A. Herzrent

My prediction is that public safety pension funds would be maintained at all costs. These employees will be essential to maintaining publilc order when our remaining public servants march, riot and disrupt in an attempt to bully and intimidate the rest of us.


Superintendents should not be pension eligible. The school districts almost always pick up the employee portion. Their salaries eclipse the wage base limit for Social Security, making the pension contributions that much more expensive. His career started before there was ever such thing as COLA increases, yet he gets 3% compounded. I would wager he had unused vacation time from being a teacher paid out at his pensionable superintendent salary when he retired. The current pension system just does not handle upward mobility very well.