SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), along with 29 of her colleagues, passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate yesterday that will save the state billions of dollars by reforming the Teachers Retirement System.
The bill gives current employees a choice of how they wish to receive a portion of their retirement benefits. They are asked to choose between cost of living adjustments or health insurance upon their retirement. Retired teachers are not included.
This change would create an immediate savings of $4.7 billion and will save the state $18 billion or more over the next 30 years.
“Yesterday, legislators took action to address the pension crisis. It is becoming increasingly clear that a comprehensive reform, as much as it is my preference, does not have a majority of votes at this time,” Sen. Bertino-Tarrant said. “This comes the closest to achieving reforms while doing the least amount of detriment to the retirement security of our teachers.”
This bill’s sponsor believes that it maintains the strongest argument for constitutionality. Legislators worry that passing a plan that the courts determine to be unconstitutional would waste both time and money.
“We are not done with pension reform. We need to address the state’s other four pension systems if we are going to truly reduce our pension debt, but this is the first step in rebuilding Illinois and reinvesting dollars into our education and human services, as well as paying down our backlog of overdue bills, ” Bertino-Tarrant continued.
No Senate Republicans voted on this measure, which will now be taken up in the House of Representatives.