Former CLC board member, activist Philip Carrigan dies

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Former College of Lake County board member, longtime activist and Lake County community leader Philip Carrigan died Sunday at the age of 73.

Carrigan, a Waukegan resident, resigned from the board in September for personal reasons. He was elected to a 6-year term in April 2013 and previously served on the board from 2005-2011.

CLC board Chairman Richard A. Anderson called Carrigan a tireless advocate for community college education as well as causes such early childhood education, transitional housing and food pantries.

“He earned the deepest respect and admiration of his colleagues on the board of trustees, as well as CLC faculty, staff and students,” Anderson said Tuesday. “On behalf of the board of trustees of the College of Lake County, we express our deepest condolences to Dr. Philip J. Carrigan’s family and gratitude for his years of exemplary service, leadership and integrity.”

Among the other organizations Carrigan worked on behalf of were Staben House and Staben Center, the Waukegan Township-based transitional housing programs; PADS homeless shelters; the Faith Food Pantry in Zion; the Lake County Community Action Project; the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison reform organization; and the CEASE FIRE Advisory Council, an anti-gun violence program in Waukegan and North Chicago.

According to CLC, Carrigan was a native of Massachusetts. He earned an undergraduate pharmacy degree from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, a master’s degree from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in pharmacokinetics from the University of Connecticut.

He began work at Abbott Laboratories in Lake County in 1974, and in 1985 he was promoted to the Volwiler Society at Abbott in recognition of his scientific contributions to the company. Carrigan retired from Abbott in 2004 after more than 30 years primarily in the area of pharmaceutical research and development.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Clare Jakes, and daughter, Erin, a 1999 CLC graduate.

A wake is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at Peterson Funeral Home, 408 N. Sheridan Road in Waukegan. Visitation will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, followed by an 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, 15000 W. Wadsworth Road in Wadsworth.

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January 31, 2018 at 09:09AM

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Former CLC board member, activist Philip Carrigan dies

Lawmakers discuss proposal to borrow $107 billion to pay down pension debt

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An Illinois House committee Tuesday afternoon began exploring the idea of borrowing more than $100 billion to both invest and to help pay down the state’s $130 billion unfunded pension liability.

Under questioning, the proposal’s author admitted there is risk to taxpayers.

During a fact-gathering hearing of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee, state Rep. Rob Martwick, D-Chicago, said he’s not sure if the idea is viable or not, but it’s worth investigating.

"I’m not smart enough to know that," Martwick said. "These matters are far beyond my expertise."

Martwick has proposed issuing $107 billion in bonds to help pay down the state’s $130 billion unfunded pension liability, which he said could save the state billions of dollars in the long run through investments.

But some Republicans already have criticized the idea, saying it would be the largest bond issuance in world history.

“Think about that,” state Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, told Illinois News Network Monday. “Illinois, that can’t pay its bills now, is going to put up more debt on our credit card in hopes of solving our pension crisis. I’m open to ideas, but simply bonding out $107 billion is massively irresponsible.”

Martwick said at Tuesday’s hearing that the state is going to have to pay pensioners one way or another. How that’s going to happen is the question.

"How do we manage that cost? At what cost do we repay that debt?" he asked.

Professor Runhuan Feng with the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois said under the proposal, the state would issue 27-year, fixed rate serial bonds to pay down the pension debt. Feng, who wrote the proposal, said his goal was to save the state billions of dollars but also have the state’s five pension systems funded at 90 percent.

"The proposoal is to distribute all the bond proceeds to the five retirement systems in order for them to meet 90 percent funding ratio immediately in 2018," he said.

But 35.8 percent of those allocations would be deposited in a special investment fund for each system until 2045, Feng said. The state would pay down the bonding debt in annual payments of $8.5 billion until 2045.

Because of the investments, Feng said, the state would save $103 billion off its current obligation by 2045. The state’s current obligation is $345 billion through 2045. Under his plan, it is $238 billion.

But state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, read a series of headlines criticizing Illinois for its past borrowing practices to pay off debt.

"Why are those headlines wrong?" said Ives, who’s running against Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary for governor. "These are very qualified, like, we’re talking bond buyers, zero hedge, … chief investment officer, Trib. These are qualified entities that understand the bond market."

Feng said he thought the past criticism was directed at borrowing money to pay down debt, not to invest as his plan would do.

Ives then asked Feng if he’d checked with any of the credit ratings agencies to see what borrowing more than $100 billion would to the state’s rating, which is just one notch above junk status. Martwick interrupted and said further hearings would explore that topic.

Feng, who is in the state university pension system, said there would be risk to taxpayers if the rate of return on the investments doesn’t meet his expectations. Ives responded by saying taxpayers would be the ones left with the responsibility of covering the costs if the plan doesn’t pan out.

Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, pointed out that state actuaries have overestimated investment return rates in the past.

"One of the issues we’ve had with our pension systems is that the actuaries have assumed these returns onthe pensions that have turned out to not be correct," Drury said. "That puts us way more into debt."

Drury and other lawmakers worried the General Assembly could waste an entire year talking about what could amount to just a theory without focusing on real solutions to tackle the 3 percent compounded annual interest retirees get.

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January 30, 2018 at 05:48PM

Lawmakers discuss proposal to borrow $107 billion to pay down pension debt

Lawmakers return to Capitol Tuesday

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Tuesday, Illinois lawmakers kick off the 100th session at the Capitol and they’re hitting the ground running.

Several important hearings are scheduled Tuesday. Subject matters include healthcare funding pension reform.

At the pension hearing lawmakers will discuss two new ideas put on the table by the State Universities Annuitants Association. One option is to have the state borrow more than 100 billion dollars to pay pension debt.

Also, lawmakers will try to quickly tackle the hospital assessment program, set to expire in July. The program helps the state get billions of dollars from the federal government to pay for Medicaid expenses.

One of the biggest issues lawmakers will face is again, funding a capital bill which would pay for failing infrastructure and roads around the state. One idea, increasing the gas tax, was put on the table but some don’t think it’ll get bipartisan support especially during an election year. 

Kevin Burke of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association says lawmakers need to put their differences aside to do what’s best for taxpayers in the long-run.

 “Sometimes you have to take that short-term pain in order to really have the system in the long term, so the longer they wait, the more expensive it’s going to be and it’s going to be an even bigger tax increase or bigger fee increase,” says Burke.

Another issue on the table- bitcoins. Lawmakers plan to hold committee hearings to evaluate how to regulate crypto-currency.

Also a wage equity bill, which failed last year will get another chance. Bill sponsor Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) is reintroducing legislation that stops employers from learning a candidates salary history. 

The House and Senate will begin session Tuesday. Wednesday is the Governor’s much anticipated State of the State of address.

Lawmakers return to Capitol Tuesday

Lawmakers return to Capitol Tuesday

http://ift.tt/2BDpVnY

Invisible placeholder

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Tuesday, Illinois lawmakers kick off the 100th session at the Capitol and they’re hitting the ground running.

Several important hearings are scheduled Tuesday. Subject matters include healthcare funding pension reform.

At the pension hearing lawmakers will discuss two new ideas put on the table by the State Universities Annuitants Association. One option is to have the state borrow more than 100 billion dollars to pay pension debt.

Also, lawmakers will try to quickly tackle the hospital assessment program, set to expire in July. The program helps the state get billions of dollars from the federal government to pay for Medicaid expenses.

One of the biggest issues lawmakers will face is again, funding a capital bill which would pay for failing infrastructure and roads around the state. One idea, increasing the gas tax, was put on the table but some don’t think it’ll get bipartisan support especially during an election year. 

Kevin Burke of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association says lawmakers need to put their differences aside to do what’s best for taxpayers in the long-run.

 “Sometimes you have to take that short-term pain in order to really have the system in the long term, so the longer they wait, the more expensive it’s going to be and it’s going to be an even bigger tax increase or bigger fee increase,” says Burke.

Another issue on the table- bitcoins. Lawmakers plan to hold committee hearings to evaluate how to regulate crypto-currency.

Also a wage equity bill, which failed last year will get another chance. Bill sponsor Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) is reintroducing legislation that stops employers from learning a candidates salary history. 

The House and Senate will begin session Tuesday. Wednesday is the Governor’s much anticipated State of the State of address.

Lawmakers return to Capitol Tuesday

Proposed $107 billion bond isn’t the cure for Illinois’ public pension crisis

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A big, bold plan to save the state’s debt-strapped public pension funds is being floated this week in Springfield. But don’t get your hopes up.

It’s not the cure to Illinois’ festering financial crisis.

An influential state employee advocacy group, the State Universities Annuitants Association, is urging Illinois to issue $107 billion in bonds to pay off shortfalls in the state’s five leading pension funds.

Yep, that’s a whopping $107 billion — backed by taxpayers who will be on the hook, especially if this deal goes bad. And the odds of that occurring look pretty good.

“It’s a big gamble,” says Howard Cure, director of municipal bond credit research for Evercore Wealth Management in New York.

While full details of this plan are expected to be unveiled Tuesday before a state panel, bond and public finance experts are already highly skeptical. They’re concerned it will add to Illinois’ pension burdens — now estimated at $130 billion in unfunded liabilities and growing — and further hinder the state’s sorry overall financial health.

Let’s start with the bond market.

At $107 billion in 27-year fixed-rate bonds, it would be the largest amount of debt the state ever sought from investors. Bond experts wonder if Illinois — with its record of political dysfunction, inability to pay its bills in a timely way and $25 billion in general obligation debt — will attract enough hungry investors.

One way to lure wary backers is to spice up the bonds and sell them at above-market interest rates. Such a premium would likely attract risk-taking investors, probably from overseas funds, or deep-pocketed individuals hoping to make a killing.

But higher rates are tougher to pay off and investors’ bond payments must be paid on time, says Evercore’s Cure. Missing a debt payment means riling angry bondholders, who could quickly sue the state or take other legal actions to recoup their investments, he adds.

Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation — a nonpartisan government research group — says his organization has “serious concerns and reservations” about the proposed bond effort too.

On top of the gargantuan amount, the bond is limited to pensions and not linked to any comprehensive financial plan for improving state finances, Msall asserts. The bond’s size could also impede the state’s ability to seek borrowing or bond financing for infrastructure or other basic needs, he says.

Despite these somber concerns, no one should be beating up on the State Universities Annuitants Association, which represents more than 200,000 current and retired employees, for leading this charge.

The group believes many initial concerns will be addressed when it reveals the details of its plan to the General Assembly committee exploring public pension matters. It will argue that its refinancing proposal will lop $103 billion off state pension costs through 2045 while increasing the pensions’ funding levels to 90 percent.

Rep. Robert Martwick, the Chicago Democrat who heads the House pension committee, has no position on the bond plan but wants it to become part of a larger pension reform debate. In the coming weeks, the $107 billion initiative will be fully discussed by finance experts, labor and taxpayer advocates, he stresses.

Of course, when it comes to Illinois’ public pension crisis, there’s no shortage of issues to chew over.

Government leaders have been doing that for way too many years with few results, mainly because of state underfunding of pensions, feisty union opposition and a provision in the state constitution that prohibits any structural changes to the funds or benefits.

Those who want to totally dump public pension plans haven’t had any better luck getting around that provision.

It’s a nasty trick bag because, in the meantime, the amount of public pension liabilities keeps stacking up and strapped taxpayers are increasingly responsible for paying more.

It’s a mess.

But this big, bold but flawed bond plan isn’t the solution to the public pension crisis.

We can’t be that desperate.

roreed@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @ReedTribBiz

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January 30, 2018 at 05:42AM

Proposed $107 billion bond isn’t the cure for Illinois’ public pension crisis

Paul Vallas Resigns At Chicago State University

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Paul Vallas resigned Monday as chief administrative officer at Chicago State University.

The CSU Board Of Trustees accepted Vallas’ resignation and Monday was his last day.

The board also voted to eliminate the position held by Vallas.

Vallas took the job in April, 2017 after previously being appointed by Gov. Rauner to the board of trustees last January.

Vallas told the Chicago Tribune last week that he planned to leave the post before the end of his contract and was considering a campaign for mayor.

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January 29, 2018 at 04:28PM

Paul Vallas Resigns At Chicago State University