A Pension Primer: Status and Solutions

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Public Meeting November 1; Consensus Meeting November 8



Illinois Public Pensions! That is a hot topic this election season garnering a lot of attention by just about everyone: politicians, media, retirees, and taxpayers. For years, there has been talk but not much action. Now the legislature has recognized the crisis, which may lead to an action plan. Public retirees and taxpayers lives will be affected.

With all the attention and talk going on, the League has not been able to participate.The League of Women Voters of Illinois does not have a position about the pensions, and so the League has not been able to lobby on the issue.

In June 2011, delegates to the LWVIL convention overwhelmingly voted to: conduct a study of pension problems in Illinois and proposals for pension reform. The goal would be to come up with a position of what types of pension systems are sustainable and appropriate for Illinois and what reforms the League would recommend consistent with the language and wording of the Illinois Constitution. The LWVIL Study committee determined the scope of the study and determined questions for the local leagues to discuss and reach a consensus. LWVIL members will consider potential changes that could be applied to these public pension systems and their potential impacts on key stakeholders.

Now is the time for Illinois local leagues to participate in the consensus process and help the state League determine its position. As part of the process, LWV-LF/LB is holding a public meeting to increase understanding about this controversial issue. The program will be on Thursday, November 1, 7:00 p.m. at Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest. There will be two speakers addressing different aspects of the problem.

Robert E. Riley, a Partner with Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton, Taylor, Ltd. in Chicago, which specializes in education and municipal law, will speak about the five Illinois State Public Pension Systems. He will explain the background and the Illinois constitution regarding pensions.

Amanda Kass, Pension and Local Government Specialist, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, will describe the history of the underfunding and potential solutions. There will be plenty of time after the presentations for questions.

The five Illinois state public pension systems with an estimated unfunded liability of $83 billion are the General Assembly Retirement Plan, Judges Retirement System, State Employees Retirement System, State Universities Retirement System, and Teachers’ Retirement System.

The following week, on Thursday, November 8, at 1:00 p.m., Tracy will hold a consensus meeting at her home. Please call her at 847-615-9022 if you can attend. She will give you her address and directions. The consensus questions were included in the last League Lines newsletter. You can also find them at http://lwvil.org/Consensus_Form_-_Pension_Study.pdf