The Illinois Retired Teachers' Association Political Action Committee (IRTAPAC) is our first line of defense in the ongoing battle to protect healthcare benefits now that the Supreme Court has ruled in our favor protecting our pensions.
At a press conference last month, Governor Bruce Rauner made the following statement: "President Cullerton and I have agreed on how to do that. Even Speaker (Michael) Madigan's staff has agreed that it probably works. That's front and center now on the table after the (November) election."
The "that" the governor is referring to is bringing back some form of President John Cullerton's SB 2404 bill. Originally, SB 2404 would have forced a choice of keeping your COLA and giving up healthcare or keeping your healthcare benefit but giving up your COLA.
This might well be what we see proposed after the election, but thanks to our lawsuit against SB 1, this would only effect those yet to retire. Current retirees would not face this choice.
What we need to continue to be vigilant about is the cost of our healthcare. It seems that since the legislature was told they cannot take away our pension benefits, their next line of attack may be focused on the insurance benefits we receive through TRIP.
There has already been talk of increasing premiums or cutting benefits because the governor believes the insurance program retirees receive is a 'Cadillac' plan and he doesn't believe we deserve this kind of care.
This is where IRTAPAC becomes our first line of defense. IRTAPAC funds are used to help elect legislators who in turn support IRTA members. $1 per month, $12 per year, deducted directly from your pension sends a message to legislators that we will defend our benefits.
But to do anything, we need you and your support.
2016 is an election year. There are contested races for several seats in the Illinois General Assembly. Helping to elect state legislators who will oppose budget bailouts on the backs of retirees is the goal of IRTAPAC.
Our legislative committee will meet on August 4. We will review questionnaires that have been submitted by incumbent legislators and their challengers. We then will send our recommendations to the IRTA board of directors for final approval. Then it becomes our job...the job of all of us in IRTA...to ensure those who have supported us and our benefits continue to receive our support in the November Election.
Your IRTA legislative committee set a goal to double the IRTAPAC membership. Of the (37,000) IRTA members, (3,800) are IRTAPAC members. Our goal is to have 6500 IRTAPAC $1 per month deduct contributors by December 2017.
Please, join your fellow IRTA members and me today and donate to the IRTAPAC. With your help, we can nip these types of unfair proposals before they become state law. Enrolling in the IRTAPAC payroll deduction program will help to ensure that our lobbying efforts will have the funds to defend our pensions and insurance programs. The political action funds are used to help legislative candidates that are aligned with the IRTA legislative agenda. Currently 213 of our 1501 IRTA members in McHenry County are taking the dues deduct for IRTAPAC.