WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois Pension Talks Turn to School Funding Issues

Jun 21, 2012

It's doubtful Illinois' pension crisis will be resolved soon.

Legislative leaders and the governor met Thursday, June 21 to discuss whether the state or local school districts should pay retirement costs for downstate and suburban teachers. The state picks up the tab now, but it doesn't pay for Chicago teachers' retirement benefits.

After the meeting, top lawmakers said they're going to spend five weeks studying school funding equality. Then they'll work on what to do about Illinois' hugely underfunded government pensions.

Governor Pat Quinn said he's willing to wait.

"I think each of the leaders got the message that we have to act, and act with dispatch. If we have to make a comprehensive study of school funding in order to make some of the leaders and members comfortable with voting for our pension reform, so be it," Quinn said.

In the meantime, the state's unfunded pension liability continues to grow.

House and Senate Republican leaders have said that forcing school districts to pay teachers' pensions will lead to property tax hikes.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio