Educators the losers in pension deal
The new Illinois pension reform law was passed in the same cowardly manner that has become synonymous with Illinois politics. Lawmakers delayed voting on the measure until the day after the filing deadline for 2014 candidates; they rushed it to the floor before anyone had time to read or digest the complex bill, they allowed no opportunity for public hearings or input from those affected by the law, and they passed it with the barest of majorities.
The law will have a devastating impact on teacher retirees in Illinois at every level from elementary through graduate school. The annual increase in the U.S. cost of living has averaged close to 3 percent since the time those statistics were first gathered, but Illinois has chosen to reduce the Cost of Living Adjustment from 3 down to 1 percent or less for most retirees. Consequently, the average teacher retiring with a $45,000 pension will lose more than $188,000 in payments over 25 years.
Principals and others fortunate enough to earn six figure salaries will see their pensions diminished by 25 to 30 percent. An administrator who retired with an $110,000 salary, and an annual pension of $82,500 would lose more than $650,000 in benefits over 25 years. That must be what Governor Quinn had in mind when he said that everyone will have to "give a little" to make pension reform work.
It won't take long for the best qualified teachers, administrators and professors to realize that if they want a dignified retirement, they should get out of Illinois. And if the legislature decides to seriously consider applying Illinois income tax to those reduced pensions, there will be no earthly reason for anyone associated with education to stay. Stupid is as stupid does.
William S. Hicks