The next pension bind for state lawmakers involves Chicago teachers, and it won’t involve state money. Chicago teachers were not included in last year’s pension restructuring law, which is now in court, and Chicago schools will have to boost pension contributions by $400 million, if nothing changes. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says the state is not living up to its responsibility to fund Chicago teacher pensions, but there’s no chance that this problem will be solved with state money.
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“I don’t think there’ll be money coming from Springfield, as fair as it would be that the state start to pay, but we can’t pass that when it’s just Chicago that would support that,” he said. He said a 1995 law obligates the state to pay into the Chicago teachers’ pension fund 30 percent of what the state contributes to the Teachers Retirement System, which is for Downstate and suburban teachers. In fact, the state contributes less than one-third of 1 percent. Cullerton is urging Chicago teachers to look at the pension law that affects teachers Downstate and in the suburbs and agree to provisions that would limit the growth of benefits.