Illinois pensions

Rachel Otwell

  Lawmakers haven't touched state pension benefits since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled their previous attempt unconstitutional.  That was nearly a year-and-a-half-ago. But Governor Bruce Rauner says he's "pretty excited": He thinks they will pass a new law this winter.

"I think we can come to a ... important solution to fund our pension structure. Again: Protect existing benefits, but put in place new options that are more affordable that employees can choose among, with their own choice, their own options."  

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A new Illinois law bars newly elected members on county boards within the state from signing up for pensions from the Illinois Municipal Retirement fund.

The law, signed last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is a result of a political battle in McHenry County, where a candidate in the November race for county board president found board members were -- depending on the county -- supposed to work 600 or 1,000 hours a year to receive pensions.

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Officials with the Teacher’s Retirement System made a decision today that could add another $421 million to Illinois’ annual pension costs.

After more than an hour of listening to actuaries explain why the teacher pension fund isn’t earning as much off its investments as it used to, TRS board member Andrew Hirshman tried explaining it using medical terms instead of math.

Amanda Vinicky

The massive unfunded Illinois pension obligation has made reducing the state's costs a priority for years.

An overhaul of retirement benefits for state employees, public school teachers and university workers has been the subject of talks between state leaders in recent months.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said as much Wednesday, but he sounded uncertain as to what will come of it.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a previous law cutting pension benefits was unconstitutional.

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Illinois workers get an added bonus once they retire -- they don't have to pay taxes on pension or Social Security checks.

It's one possible change the state could consider as it hunts for more money.

Illinois is a rare state that taxes income on a regular paycheck but not on retirement.

Fiscal experts -- like the non-partisan Civic Federation -- say that, as Illinois' population ages and there are more retirees and pensioners, the government will increasingly lose out on a source of revenue.