WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Quinn: Funding Decline If Higher Ed Pensions Not Changed

Aug 14, 2012

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's office is touting a one-page analysis claiming higher education will suffer if lawmakers fail to address Illinois' pension problem.

In the so-called study, Quinn's budget office estimates that state funding of higher education will steadily decline over the next five years.

The projections show more money would be needed to pay for university and community college employees' pensions, which would leave less for schools and scholarships for needy students.

Tom Hardy, University of Illinois spokesman, said this would be nothing new. Even as Illinois lawmakers skipped pension payments in recent years, they gave less money to public universities for a variety of other reasons.

"Fiscal crises that the state has endured, recessions, economic downturns, just plain old other priorities," Hardy said.

Hardy said it's unclear to him that alleviating the pension funding problem will lead to more state money for universities and community colleges.

The University of Illinois had agreed to support a plan that would require the school pick up the tab for employees' retirement benefits, which is a cost now paid by the state. But Hardy said that would have to be phased in.

Quinn has called a special legislative session for Friday to discuss a pension solution.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio