Chicago teachers seek state fix for pension deficit

Senate bill would infuse Chicago teachers pension with millions

April 18, 2012

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(flickr/Jeremy Wilburn)

Public pensions throughout Illinois are hurting, and that includes the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF).

It’s underfunded by millions of dollars. Senate Bill 3628 would have the state of Illinois pump $270 million into the fund next year. After that, the state’s contributions would be pegged at 10 percent of what the state gives to the Teachers Retirement Fund, which is for teachers outside of Chicago.

“State funding to the pension fund would be extremely important,” Kevin Huber, director of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, said before the Pensions and Investments Committee of the Illinois State Senate. “We need help from the state.”

Huber told the committee that from 1988 to 2009, the state contributed $65 million annually to the CTPF. But in 2010, that contribution dropped to $10 million a year.

“When it drops like that, then it becomes problematic,” Huber said. “I believe the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) needs help from the pension fund matter from the state.”

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) is sponsoring the pension bill. He’s also chairman of the committee. If it passes the senate, the bill will still need support in the Illinois House.

“It’s a real problem and it’s not going to get any better without some state solution,” Raoul said.

The bill is being debated at a time when Gov. Quinn is set to announce soon a possible solution to fix the state’s $83 billion public pension debt. A bipartisan committee of state lawmakers is also trying to develop a plan to deal with the issue. Tuesday's deadline to come up with a plan came and went with no solution announced.