Schools fear Quinn idea to shift pension costs

February 3, 2012

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Cash-strapped Illinois could save more than $1.3 billion a year if it passed off its portion of public teacher retirement benefits to schools and colleges, but administrators say it could mean ruin for some school districts.

Gov. Pat Quinn has expressed support for shifting the cost to local school districts and colleges to free up money to pay down a huge unfunded liability in the five state pension systems.

School districts say their budgets are already strained. Many are limited by caps on the amount of property taxes they may collect and say seeking voter approval for more would be difficult.

The cost of maintaining the pension system for public schoolteachers outside Chicago is $850 million a year. It costs another $468 million to run the State Universities Retirement System.