* Every time somebody floats the idea of skipping or skimping on pension payments, they use the same argument that is ably outlined by Andrew Bodewes in this article. Every. Single. Time…
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pension proposal is not sitting well with state lawmakers, an adviser to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System told its board of trustees last week.
The governor’s plan is to reduce payments to the various pension systems by $850 million next year, while extending by seven years the time it will take to pay off $134 billion in unfunded liabilities.
While the plan appears unpopular now, Andrew Bodewes, the board’s legislative liaison, said that could change as the end of the session draws near and lawmakers have to consider the other options.
“I don’t want to suggest that the majority of the General Assembly could ever get to a place where they’re OK with reducing pension payments by $850 million,” Bodewes told the board during its annual retreat Thursday in Springfield. “But when they start looking at, ‘We’re going to cut schools by this, we’re going to close these parks; We’re going to reduce these services to children with learning disabilities,’ it starts to get real. Those conversations get very real. So I’m always sympathetic to the members.”
“We gotta skip pension payments so we can fund (fill in the blank).” It has always been thus. Always.
And, of course, that $850 million is what the governor claims the skimp would be. It could actually be as high as $1.1 billion per year for seven years. Amanda Kass, who calculated the higher figure, was on Illinois Public Radio the other day. Listen to the interview by clicking here.