Illinois Funds Eye Possible Asset Sales

August 25, 2010 ( – If the state of Illinois does not make its pension contributions this year, the state’s five major public pension systems say they will have to sell more than $5 billion in assets to meet their obligations for the fiscal year that began July 1.

A Chicago Tribune news report said the only way the state funds avoided the same fate last fiscal year was because lawmakers eventually approved a plan to borrow $3.4 billion to make its pension payments. The state legislature has recessed this year without approving a pension funding plan and has rebuffed efforts by Governor Pat Quinn to, once again, borrow for that purpose, the newspaper said.

Until there is some legislative movement on the issue, according to the Tribune, plans by the five funds include the possible sale of:

  • $1.2 billion in assets by the Illinois State Universities Retirement System.. “I can’t reiterate enough how important it is for the state to make its contribution,” said William Mabe, executive director of the university system.
  • $3 billion in assets by the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System. The teachers fund is already selling assets to meet its monthly benefits obligations, as it did last year, said Dave Urbanek, a spokesman for the system. Last fiscal year it sold $1.3 billion in assets for this purpose.
  • $960 million in assets by the Illinois State Board of Investment, which  manages the assets of the Illinois State Employees’ Retirement System, the Illinois Judges’ Retirement System and the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System.