Call to Action

13 Apr

Just when you thought pension news couldn’t get any worse, it does. You have probably heard the dire reports about the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) in the media. For many years TRS has reported that the pension system was sustainable even though the state has neglected to make their obligated payments for decades. Suddenly they are sharing a much more serious projection.

Dick Ingram is the executive director of TRS. It seems he is ‘throwing in the towel’ and assuming the state will not make their payments into the system. Based on this, he is predicting our pension system could become insolvent as early as 2030. This would affect everyone, including those already retired.

There are many ‘solutions’ to this problem that are floating around. Most of them are unacceptable to our members and include cutting benefits, requiring us to pay more into the system, or extending the age of retirement. There is also a push to shift the responsibility for these payments to the individual school districts. This would devastate the already cash-strapped school budgets and would most likely lead to staffing reductions.

The problems with the pension system occurred because of inadequate funding. It is a revenue problem and needs to be resolved through an increase in revenue. The IEA is proposing a graduated income tax to bring in additional revenue. Illinois currently has a flat income tax. At the present time, every tax payer pays the same percentage of their income as tax to the state. A graduated tax would require the wealthy to pay a higher percentage of their income as tax.

When doing a ‘call to action’ in the past, I was very disappointed by the lack of participation. We need every member to take a few minutes to write to their state senator and representative. Complacency will be our downfall! Form letters, or anything that looks mass-produced, aren’t very effective. Personal messages are key.

If you need to find the names or addresses for your state senator and representative, please go to http://ieanea.org. Place your mouse over the Legislative/Political link at the top and choose Contact Your Legislators from the menu that appears.

Here is a sample letter if you aren’t sure what to write:

Dear _________,

I am an Illinois public school teacher. I have contributed 9.4% of my salary to the TRS pension fund over the course of my career. I am counting on my pension for income when I retire. I will not receive Social Security.

TRS cannot be sustained if the State of Illinois does not make its obligated payments into the fund. I think it is shameful that they have neglected this obligation for decades. Shame on every member of the General Assembly that has participated in this fiasco.

It is up to you and your colleagues to fix the problem you created. Any proposal to diminish our benefits is unconstitutional. The Illinois Education Association is proposing a graduated income tax to increase revenue without adding additional tax burdens on the middle class. Please give this serious consideration.

I am a voter in your district and your action on this issue will affect how I vote in the future.

Sincerely,

Name
Address

Administrators: We are all in the same TRS boat. Please consider writing a letter, too!

Thanks for your help!

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