Ill. Universities Agree to Take Pension Obligations

May 17, 2013 ( – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has come to a preliminary agreement with the state’s universities and community colleges to take on some pension obligations.

The final arrangement would require the universities and community colleges to gradually take over the cost of teacher pensions over several years, said an article in The Chicago Tribune. This would end the existing practice of having the state pay for these retirement benefits.

While the plan does not currently include downstate and suburban Illinois school districts, which also receive state money to pay for employee pension costs, Madigan said in the news report that these districts will also be asked to pay for pension costs before the state’s spring legislative session ends in two weeks.

Under the proposal, universities and community colleges would pick up one-half of 1% of teacher pension costs each year until they assume full responsibility. If no other pension system changes are made, it is expected to take about 22 years for the universities and community colleges to complete the cost shift, according to Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz. The state currently picks up the 11% cost of the schools’ pension contribution. If the Illinois State Senate approves a comprehensive pension reform plan backed by Madigan, that time frame could be cut to about five years, Nekritz said.

According to the news report, the proposal is expected to be drafted into legislation over the next several days, and another hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.