While government worker unions have had a stranglehold on the people of Illinois for far too long, the state isn’t without hope. Illinois can follow the lead of other Midwestern states and enact labor reforms.View Report
In the midst of Illinois’ pension crisis, River Forest District 90 has agreed to pay 100 percent of teacher contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System – and it did so secretly.
Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert had been receiving nearly $30,000 annually from the underfunded General Assembly Retirement System.
Nearly 38 percent of Illinois Teachers Retirement System assets are in so-called alternative investments.
Illinois’ teacher pension system is structured to allow local school boards to agree to generous contracts, knowing taxpayers across the state will foot the bill. This system should change so that local school boards cover their own pension costs. That way, they will bear the full cost of salary increases they decide on, rather than pushing much of that cost onto unaware state taxpayers.
In 2010, the unfunded debt related to pensions and retiree health care costs for local and state government workers across Illinois was $203 billion, the equivalent of more than $43,000 per household. In just six years, the total debt Illinois households are on the hook for has jumped to $56,000, or 31 percent. That’s a $13,000 increase for each household. Total unfunded debt for state and local governments in Illinois now totals $267 billion.
Illinois households are now on the hook for $27,000, up 17 percent from 2015.
The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System’s actuarial changes will drive up taxpayer contributions by $421 million in 2017. These latest changes prove Illinois’ pension math doesn’t work.
More realistic investment return assumptions by the Teachers’ Retirement System mean Illinois taxpayer contributions to the fund could rise by hundreds of millions of dollars. Ending teacher pension pickups would alleviate the burden on Illinois taxpayers.
The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System’s adoption of more realistic investment return assumptions would cause the system’s unfunded liabilities to grow by about $6 billion above their current $62 billion level.
Reforming Illinois’ Teachers’ Retirement System is the only hope for saving the pension fund from insolvency and providing the accountability and retirement security that teachers and taxpayers deserve.