WIUM Tristates Public Radio

IL Colleges to Pay for Employees' Pensions

May 17, 2013

Although they're facing budget cuts, universities and community colleges have said they're willing to begin taking on employees' pension costs.

The state covers the employers' share of retirement benefits for Illinois' public schools, colleges and universities.

House Speaker Mike Madigan is insistent the state stop.

Talks are ongoing about how that could work for school districts, critics say shifting the cost will lead to higher property taxes.

But community colleges and public universities have agreed to pay.

"I think there's a reality that you come down to grips with," said University of Illinois President Robert Easter.

"Their options are pretty simple.  Either they reduce our appropriation.  And that money then gets used to pay those costs.  Or we assume those costs and hopefully they will be able to sustain an appropriation that's relatively consistent with what they've done in the past," Easter said.

The Governor's proposed budget would cut higher education by five percent.  University presidents say in exchange for agreeing to take on the pension costs, they hope to see smaller cuts to their budgets.