* Via an e-mail from Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan…
Letter to Governor and Legislative Leaders from Illinois Public University Presidents/Chancellors
As presidents and chancellors of the state’s public universities, we write to express our profound disappointment in and our opposition to the proposed pension legislation scheduled to be discussed in the General Assembly Tuesday morning.
For the past three years we have strongly advocated for public pension reform. We have been active and thoughtful participants in pension reform discussions and proactively endorsed a plan to reform the State University Retirement System in fiscally sound and responsible ways. We continue to believe that sensible reform is essential.
However, certain features of the plan scheduled to be discussed on December 3rd in the General Assembly, particularly the approach to COLA and the cap on pensionable salaries, will have a severe impact on the retirement security of faculty and staff in the state’s public universities. It will adversely affect our collective ability to recruit and retain the people we need to educate the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs, provide health care for the state’s neediest citizens, and build new startup companies and create jobs through university research. The bill will be detrimental to higher education in Illinois and ultimately to the overall economy of the State of Illinois.
…Adding… U of I’s letter…
December 2, 2013 — U of I opposes pension legislation
Members of the Illinois General Assembly as soon as tomorrow are expected to consider, and approve, a major overhaul of the state’s public sector pension systems—changes that as proposed would adversely impact public university employees, place higher education in Illinois at a competitive disadvantage, and ultimately weaken the state’s economy.
For these reasons, the University of Illinois is officially opposing the legislation and we are profoundly disappointed that in nearly three years of engaging the legislative process on this crucial issue, the state’s nine public universities’ counterproposals will not be included.
Details of the final legislative proposal (http://capitolfax.com/DRAFTSB1PensionProposal.PDF) have only just emerged; if passed, the governor has said he will sign it into law, and it is virtually certain to face a constitutional challenge in the courts. The proposed effective date is July 1, 2014. A brief letter from the state’s public universities’ presidents and chancellors expressing their collective opposition went to the legislative leaders and governor today.
In a statement regarding the public pension funding crisis a year ago, the University of Illinois called for a pension system that would be reasonable, responsible, sustainable, and competitive with those offered by our peer institutions.
In our view, the legislation under consideration fails to meet those basic principles. The likely changes arguably lessen the retirement commitments made to employees and retirees, and their net effect also will harm the public higher education sector in Illinois. We will make our opposition heard and monitor the pending legislation, and will keep you informed of developments.
Robert A. Easter, President, University of Illinois
Phyllis Wise, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield