Government Unions Target Fiscal Sanity in Connecticut



Connecticut taxpayers, saddled with a pension system for state workers and teachers marked by decades of underfunding, glimpsed a ray of hope in 2017 when legislators embarked on a path toward accountability and fiscal discipline by enacting “fiscal guardrails.”

Now, state unions under the umbrella of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition are clamoring for the removal of the fiscal guardrails that were constructed to prevent the same unions from driving taxpayers over the cliff. The staggering state debt of more than $80 billion, including unfunded pension debt from the state workers’ and teachers’ pension funds, bonded debt, and health-care liabilities, was the result of years of irresponsibility and political horse-trading with state unions that were all too eager to negotiate benefits without a sustainable funding plan.


Connecticut has long been a high-income per capita state and also imposes one of the country’s most burdensome tax systems. Yet it still managed to accumulate the highest state debt per resident. The 2017 bipartisan fiscal guardrails constituted a recognition that the previous decade’s cycle of budget shortfalls, followed by significant tax increases, was simply unsustainable.

The guardrails were codified in 2023, and the general assembly unanimously voted to extend them for another five years. Their very effectiveness in slowing spending growth has made them susceptible to attack from state unions.

Author(s): Frank Ricci and Bryce Chinault

Publication Date: 13 Feb 2024

Publication Site: National Review Online

Illinois Bill Would Give State Treasurer Voting Control On Pension Assets – Wirepoints



Count on the Illinois legislature to find a way to further maim its crippled pension system.

Senate Bill 2152 would strip pension trustees of control over how to vote shareholder matters and vest the power in the state treasurer, currently, Michael Frerichs.

Still worse, the treasurer would then be bound to comply with the Illinois Sustainable Investing Act on how he votes on behalf of stocks owned by the pensions. That law requires officials like the treasurer to include “sustainability” considerations in how public money is invested. It’s basically a progressive policy agenda also known as ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance). It’s often ridiculed as “woke capitalism,” and includes the goals of zero fossil fuels, “equity,” gender and identity politics, and pretty much any other social justice fad in vogue.


Shareholders, including pensions, usually have the right to vote on key corporate issues such as board of director elections, rights offerings, mergers and acquisitions. For interests in private investment partnerships, which pensions also hold, voting powers include other major matters. If the bill becomes law, Frerichs, or whoever is treasurer, would hold a proxy for all those votes and execute ballots, voting as he alone decides — a huge concentration of power in one individual.

The bill would eliminate any fiduciary obligation to vote shares in a way that maximizes their value, diluting that goal with progressive’s political agenda. Today, pension managers are fiduciaries for pensioners – a strict, legal standard — but the treasurer would not be if the bill becomes law.

Author(s): Mark Glennon

Publication Date: 17 Mar 2023

Publication Site: Wirepoints

Forensic Analysis of Pension Funding: A Tool for Policymakers



Full pdf:

Key findings:

State and local policymakers face a growing pension cost burden, but often lack understanding of the root causes.

One underappreciated cause is “legacy debt” – unfunded liabilities accumulated long ago, before plans adopted modern funding practices.

Legacy debt still exists today because historical unfunded liabilities were ultimately paid in full using some of the money intended to fund later benefits.

In a sample of plans with particularly low funded ratios, legacy debt averaged more than 40 percent of unfunded liabilities.

A failure to recognize the legacy debt has provided misleading information about benefit generosity, hindering progress toward effective solutions.

Author(s): Jean-Pierre Aubry

Publication Date: April 2022

Publication Site: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch wants a graduated income tax do-over — this time tied to pension funding



New Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch suggested Wednesday that the state should again ask voters to approve a graduated-rate income tax, but this time target the new money toward paying down Illinois’ massive pension debt.

The call for a do-over came after voters in November overwhelmingly rejected Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal. Opponents, including Republicans and business leaders, used distrust of Springfield to argue for keeping the state constitution’s flat tax requirement.


Publication Date: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Tribune