“The pension system that was enacted along with the new state constitution in 1970 was, I believe, functional. However, politicians have made the Teachers’ Retirement System unsustainable.”

“Teachers unions have a large block of voters. Politicians want to keep those voters voting for their party. Therefore, politicians have bargained with the unions to provide benefits which make the pension system insolvent.”

“Originally, the sick days earned by the teacher through negotiations with the local district were used in the district and were lost when the teacher changed districts or retired.”

“In 1972, teachers began saving unused sick days for half-a-year of credit toward retirement. This means the teacher could receive more retirement income without the employer or employee paying into the system. At that moment, the system became unsound. It did not matter because in the midst of the baby boomers more teachers were being hired, adding more money to the system. It actually became a Ponzi scheme.”

“In 1984, teachers were allowed to claim a whole year of experience without payments. In 2003, those with 340 unused sick days could claim two years. Now that there are fewer children in Illinois schools, there are fewer teachers paying into the system, exacerbating the pension problem.”

“In contrast, [the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund] is the most secure pension system in the state. Why? Because the amount of money required to be paid by employers and employees must be actuarially sound. Each year the amount to be paid into the system is adjusted to make it so.”

“[Past governors] evaluating the need to get votes in the next election by funding other projects took money needed to make TRS solvent, then planned a repayment schedule which would push the payments back to TRS over the next 30 or 40 years, well beyond his term as governor.”

“It is the politicians who created the pension problem along with the teacher union bosses.”

“All [that teachers] did was to make every payment asked of them. All they want is to fulfill the promise of a peaceful retirement.”

 

John L. Hasten
Retired teacher
Marshall, Illinois