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Article posted: 5/25/2013 5:00 AM

Room for compromise in pension bills

As an attendee at your pension forum, I was disheartened to hear the lack of discussion on compromise. With less than a week until May 31, legislators are faced with bills that do not go nearly far enough to solve the current problem or so far that current retirees will be drastically, not somewhat, hurt. Put the sponsors of these bills in a room, along with not just one but two actuaries who can consistently run numbers, along with a retired teacher and a current teacher and an arbitrator, and then keep them there until they find a "happy medium."

In one bill, retirees lose almost all of their current cost-of-living increases; in the other bill, almost nothing. Compromises are available. Keep a 3 percent COLA no compounding, reduce of percentage from 3 to 2 but still compounded, put a cap on salary available for COLA (current suggestion of $20/25K is beyond insulting).

In the proposal to shift pension responsibility to districts, again, compromise is available. Shift anything to the district that goes over a normal percent raise. Perhaps this would stop districts offering excessive raises in the last few years of a contract.

The changes and sacrifices have to be spread out. Look at the bottom line of the savings in each bill. Right now they are at two ends of a spectrum. Certainly there can be compromise.

I was raised with a saying, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." After 35 years in education, I am willing to be part of the solution, but none of the bills currently being proposed fairly spreads out the sacrifices that everyone in our state needs to be looking at. The brunt of these changes should not fall on those already retired.

Karen Meadows

Buffalo Grove

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