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Legislative Conference Committee Hears CTBA Testimony

The legislative conference committee on pensions met again in Chicago today to hear testimony from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and representatives of state university presidents and chancellors. 

The university representatives spoke in favor of SB 2591, a pension plan that would impact only members of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) by imposing unconstitutional provisions, including: increasing employee contributions; slashing cost of living adjustments (COLAs); and shifting the normal cost of pensions from the state to already cash-strapped colleges and universities.

The university representatives did say they believe this plan could also be applied to the other state pension systems.

Community colleges oppose the plan, and some lawmakers have expressed strong concern that it would result in tuition increases for students and parents. The We Are One coalition testified in opposition to the bill on June 18.

Ralph Martire with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) testified on their plan which focuses on how to pay down the state’s debt service, which is the real problem. Martire argued that the state’s system to repay the debt is flawed and needs to be restructured. He says the state should make flat payments and extend the number of years the state has to pay off the debt.

The corporate funded, anti-union, Illinois Policy Institute called for pensions to be eliminated and the state to force every state pension annuitant into a 401-K style plan that provides no retirement protection.

Another presenter testified in favor of closing corporate tax loopholes to provide additional revenue for the state.

Senator Kwame Raoul, chair of the conference committee, said lawmakers would break up into 2 separate groups to continue to discuss pension issues. Senator Raoul also said that the Governor’s office and the committee both have proposals they would like actuaries to analyze. He has been informed by the actuaries that it is impossible to have all of this analysis completed by the Governor’s deadline of July 9.

The full committee will meet again Monday, July 8, in Springfield. State Representative Mike Fortner will testify on some pension concepts he has been studying.  



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