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Old 09-12-2017, 02:22 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: NY
Studying for duolingo and coursera
Favorite beer: Murphy's Irish Stout
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Chicago teacher pensions should be part of state plan

During the long-running school funding debate, there was much banter about Chicago getting $250 million for its teacher pensions.

The people from Chicago saw it as fair play. The state already kicks in for all other school pensions. Why shouldn't it pay for Chicago? Downstaters saw it as a big payoff for years of mismanagement.

In the end, it turns out Chicago didn't get the $250 million. They got $430 million. Moreover, the promise is that they will get continuing pension payments every year. No matter how you look at this agreement, the precedent has been set. More state funds will be flowing their way. A state that can't find a rational way to pay for its pension obligations has just taken on a whole big, new burden.

It's like the Titanic sending lifeboats to the Lusitania, saying "I can get that."

It might surprise you to learn the Teachers Retirement System for Illinois (TRS) does not include Chicago. Does that make any sense to you?

The pension system for Chicago teachers began in 1895. The state pension system for downstate teachers did not start until 1939. There were folks drawing pensions in Chicago when some downstate had nothing similar in place.

If you read the annual reports of these two institutions, you will find a surprise or two. Both are available online. The Chicago system claims that it is 51.8 percent funded. The state system is 39.8 percent funded. Maybe Chicago should send a payment to Springfield. In truth, neither of these numbers should make you feel proud.

Now, if Chicago gets the same share of funds from the state that everyone else does, it only makes sense to combine the two systems. That should save on administrative costs. A larger pot might also bring along better investment opportunities.

This is not going to save $430 million, of course. But it ought to save some. And in Illinois' condition, every dollar counts.


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