Director of Teachers’ Retirement System: Illinois is in a ‘Fiscal Mess’
Staff who oversees Illinois teacher pensions spoke to about 1,000 teachers at Carl Sandburg High School Thursday night about how the state might change retirements, Sun Times Media reports.
Dick Ingram, who serves as executive director for Teachers’ Retirement Systems, didn’t have much good news for teachers last week.
He spoke Thursday to about 1,000 teachers at Carl Sandburg High School regarding Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to rework the ailing and woefully underfunded state pensions, according to a Sun Times Media report by Steve Metsch.
“It’s pretty clear the state of Illinois in a real fiscal mess,” Ingram said.
Ingram further noted that TRS could be tapped out of money by 2030, according to the report.
Illinois now has underfunded pensions by $85 billion, of which $43.8 billion is TRS.
One of the most talked about scenarios involves the state putting its agreed upon contribution to TRS back on local school districts, which administrators and board members believe will inevitably end up on the backs of taxpayers.
Officials in Lemont High School District 210 and Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A publicly expressed their opposition to the plan last month, claiming the shift would have devastating effects on the quality of education in Lemont.
According to District 210 officials, taking on the responsibility of teacher pension payments would cost an estimated $730,000 each year. The cost is equivalent to the salaries and benefits of 11 Lemont High School teachers—or more than 10 percent of the school’s faculty—and represents more than 60 percent of the school’s annual budget for extracurricular activities and athletics, officials said.
"Lemont High School is in much better financial condition than most school districts, and this will have dramatic effects on our efforts to educate our students,” District 210 Superintendent Sandy Doebert said last month. “I can't imagine what districts that are not financially healthy will have to do. I also can't imagine what the state will do when school districts across the state cannot meet their financial responsibilities as a result of this unfunded mandate."
District 113A Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia said Tuesday that the administration is in the process of putting together information on the possible ramifications of Quinn's proposal.
Last month, he said the proposed pension plan “would completely negate” the financial progress District 113A has made over the past three years.
“If this plan were to pass, it would be detrimental not only for schools in Lemont, but for almost all schools across the state,” he said. “District 113A and many other school districts have already made dramatic cuts. We simply cannot afford this; it would destroy public education.”
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