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Revise IL Teachers Pension Fund Investment Return?; Rauner Mulls Gun Trafficking Bill

(Chicago) – Will Illinois’ biggest state pension fund need to lower its investment returns assumption forcing lawmakers to shovel more money into the system?

ANALYST: DROP RETURN ESTIMATE TO 4%: Darrell Preston, Bloomberg… “Illinois’s largest public pension agrees with Bill Gross’s admonishment that it’s time to face up to the reality of lower returns and reduce assumptions about what funds can make off stocks and bonds.

Fund managers that have been counting on returns of 7 percent to 8 percent may need to adjust that to around 4 percent, Gross, who runs the $1.5 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, said during an Aug. 5 interview on Bloomberg TV. Public pensions, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest in the U.S., are reporting gains of less than 1 percent for the fiscal year ended June 30.

Illinois’s largest state pension, the $43.8 billion Teachers’ Retirement System, plans to take another look at how much it assumes it will make in the coming year as part of an asset allocation study, said Richard Ingram, executive director. Currently it assumes 7.5 percent, lowered from 8 percent in June 2014. Plans for the study were in place before Gross made his remarks.

“Anybody that doesn’t consider revisiting what their assumed rate of return is would be ignoring reality,” Ingram, whose pension is 41.5 percent funded, said in a phone interview. The fund has yet to report its June 30 return.” … Read more here…

RAUNER MULLS GUN TRAFFICKING BILL: Ivan Moreno, Associated Press… “Hoping to stem the flow of illegal guns into Illinois, lawmakers have sent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a bill that would punish traffickers with up to 30 years in prison.

The proposal comes as Chicago is seeing another violent year, with shootings contributing to 381 homicides as of July 31. The city has a strict gun policy that requires permits to screen for criminal records and other disqualifiers, and investigators say most of the firearms recovered at crime scenes in recent years were bought in other states where it’s easier to buy guns, including neighboring Indiana.

“I have zero tolerance, zero tolerance for anyone who leaves the state for that purpose,” said Rep. Jim Durkin, the House Republican leader who introduced the bill.

Lawmakers sent Rauner the bill June 27, and he has three weeks left to decide whether to sign or veto it. Lance Trover, a spokesman for the governor, said the bill is still being reviewed.

BUSH PLAN TO SAVE BUTTERFLY… State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), community activists, and experts held a press conference at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago on Monday to talk about a state program to save the monarch butterfly population in Illinois.

“The monarch is the official insect in Illinois, but it is much more than that,” said Bush. “It’s also a crucial part of our ecosystem. As a pollinator, the monarch helps plants to grow from Canada to Mexico. Our food comes from pollinator service, therefore saving monarchs is in our best interest.”

Members of Federación de Clubes Michoacanos en Illinois, a group that represents natives of Mexico’s state of Michoacán, where monarchs spend the winter, joined Bush in support of her legislation. Their support underscores the fact that Bush’s effort to save Monarchs is a truly international effort.

The monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent in Illinois during the past 20 years noted Doug Taron, PhD, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s chief curator.

“The Monarch’s migration is one of nature’s biggest wonders. We applaud this commitment to help our state’s official insect,” Taron said. “We look forward to seeing more Monarch butterflies throughout the state, adding their important diversity to our ecosystem.”

Bush’s legislation would create the first specialty license plate under the state’s new-, decal-based universal license plate program. Fees from the specialty plate would go toward a highway program that would plant milkweed along the median strips of Illinois highways, which the monarch uses to lay its eggs. The median strips provide otherwise unused land that is easy for the butterflies to reach but hard for humans to disturb.


LAWSUIT TARGETS RAUNER “TURNAROUND AGENDA”: Associated Press… “A Winnebago County courtroom is the setting for a struggle over Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s so-called turnaround agenda.

A lawsuit by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is technically about whether the Rockford City Council violated the state Open Meetings Act in April. The Rockford Register Start reports (http://bit.ly/2aDlbRC ) that aldermen approved a resolution supporting the Republican governor’s pro-business, anti-union proposals.” … Read more here…

RAUNER SUED: Amanda Vinicky, WCBU 89.9… “A Downers Grove doctor and a pregnancy center in Rockford are suing to overturn Illinois’ newly updated right-of-conscience law.” … Listen and read more here…

WALGREENS MEDS DISPOSAL PROGRAM AIMS TO HELP HEROIN, OPIOID FIGHT: Business Wire… “Walgreens today is launching its safe medication disposal kiosk program in Illinois with the installation of drug take-back kiosks at 45 Walgreens drugstores in Illinois. The launch is part of Walgreens effort, announced in February, to install safe medication disposal kiosks at more than 500 of its drugstores around the country.” … Read more here…

BLUE LIGHT BULBS TO BOOST BLUE MENTAL HEALTH PLAN: Kane County Chronicle… “Residents from Kane and Kendall counties who want to display a blue light bulb on their driveway or front porch to show support for local police and for a police mental health and wellness initiative can pick up bulbs at the district office of state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego.

The blue light bulbs are free; however, donations will be accepted at pickup. The suggested donation is $2 per bulb. All proceeds will benefit Chiefs Lead the Way, a mental health and wellness initiative of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, according to a news release. Through training and interaction with mental health professionals, the program encourages chiefs to demonstrate concern for their own psychological and emotional well-being, and to inspire their command staff, sergeants and officers to take care of their personal mental health.” … Read more here…

EMANUEL FISCAL PLANS FALL SHORT: Editorial Board, Chicago Sun-Times… “As much as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has done to wrestle into submission Chicago’s massive pension debt — ignoring his polling numbers as he promotes new taxes nobody can stand — the hard fact is that the city is still not entirely coming to grip with this crisis.

We appreciate the significance of providing a revenue stream to bolster the Municipal Employees pension fund, as he and the City Council already have done for the city’s other three pension funds.

But when the increases show up for the first year on water and sewer bills — the dedicated funding source for the pension — it will be just a 7 percent tax, only a quarter of what will be added to the bills by the fourth year and thereafter. Even when the full tax is imposed, it’s expected the city may need to find another $20 million to $30 million a year on top of the tax to reach a sound level of funding if bond ratings don’t improve sufficiently.” … Read more here…


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