Illinois Schools Struggle To Soften Pension Losses
The solution Illinois' lawmakers came up with last year to the state's underfunded pension problem has provided incentives for many public university employees to leave before losing retirement money.
State schools say they expect to lose hundreds of employees by June who wouldn't otherwise retire.
But while the University of Illinois considers paying for pension supplements to keep employees around, other schools can't afford it.
Matt Bierman is budget director at Western Illinois University. He said the school doesn't have the money to make up for what its employees will lose.
Beirman said that will make tough-to-recruit positions like accounting professors even tougher.
Some schools may have to scrap classes they would otherwise offer. Southern Illinois University spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith says that could be the case at SIU this fall.
The courts will ultimately decide what happens to Illinois’ pension reform law. But, two and a half months before the overhaul is set to take effect, thousands of public university employees may soon face a choice - retire before July, or lose a substantial portion of their retirement income.
In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.
Was it supposed to? This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Richard Dye, a Professor with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs about what the pension bill does and doesn’t do to help restore the state’s financial health.
Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Shafroth, Director at the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University. Public pension problems in Illinois are a consequence of unmade payments, is that the case around the country where other public pension systems are also failing? We’ll find out and will hear what decision makers around the country are doing to triage public pension systems.