Retirement Security

March 09, 2022

TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT PENSIONS!

Connect with your legislators using this hotline provided  by AFSCME Council 31 for anyone to use: 877.890.2056
Tell them: “Do the right thing now! Support the plan for an additional $500 million payment toward the state’s pension debt.

On Monday, March 8th, retired teachers and state workers, organized by the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, held a rally and press even in Springfield to call on the General Assembly to support a proposed $500 million investment to help pay down the state pension debt. The event drew media and retirees from cities and towns around the state including Bloomington-Normal, Chicago, Decatur, Litchfield, Metro-East, Springfield, and Sullivan among others.

We are calling on the General Assembly to adopt Governor Pritzker’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget plan which allocates an additional $500 million over and above the state’s yearly minimum pension payment to help pay down old debt. If adopted, this $500 million paying down of the debt will save taxpayers $1.8 billion in higher interest costs we won’t have to pay between now and 2045. To pay for this additional pension investment, $300 million of the proposed figure is sourced from unexpected extra revenue this year, and $200 million would come out of the 2023 General Fund budget.

The state of Illinois administers three main pension funds, one each for teachers, state employees and university employees. Hundreds of thousands of retired public service workers—including educators, child protection workers, first responders, nurses and many more—along with their spouses, dependents and survivors depend on these funds for security in retirement. They rightfully expect the state to pay its share as well—but for decades that hasn’t happened.

Politicians have habitually skipped and shorted paying the state’s share, spending the money elsewhere instead. They used the retirement systems like a credit card, and the resulting debt owed to the pension funds, often called the unfunded liability, ballooned as a result. That in turn fueled attacks by politicians, wealthy individuals and corporate CEOs, and various front groups that for years have tried to slash pension benefits.

This proposed investment is good news and would mark the first time since 1994 that the state would address its pension debt by making more than its required contribution to the pension system.  Lawmakers won’t take this necessary and responsible action unless they hear from constituents like us!

 

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