Pensions probed in forum
Updated: November 2, 2012 9:04AM
LAKE FOREST – Illinois doesn’t have a pension problem, it has a pension-funding problem, according to an expert on the state retirement plans.
Amanda Kass, pension and local government specialist with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said continual underfunding of pensions has left the state $83 billion short of meeting its pension obligations.
On Thursday evening, Kass told a League of Women Voters Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Area gathering — many of whom were teachers — that retired teachers have nothing to worry about regarding their pensions.
“(The Teachers Retirement System) has sufficient funds to cover retirees for decades,” Kass said during a League program focusing on state pensions at the Gorton Community Center. “It is young teachers, new in their career, who will be most affected” by any pension reforms that occur at the state level.
Robert Riley, a partner with Chicago’s Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton, Taylor Ltd. law firm, which specializes in education and municipal law, said Lake Forest and Lake Bluff both have well-funded, stable pension funds.
He attributed that to the fact that municipal employees are covered by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which is a “pay as you go” system unlike the state which has its pension payments heavier on the back end of its employees’ retirement plans.
Riley said the state has taken proactive steps in halting abuses, such as workers double-dipping — getting a second pension or an inflated pension for a short-term second state or municipal position.
Pat Buchalter, a retired teacher, said she found the program informative and attended the session to “hear what was new with pensions.”