Downstate Illinois school districts had better get used to the idea that they – and not the state -- will be responsible for picking up teacher pension costs. Like a professor indicating what will be on the test, House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago, pictured) opened a hearing of his newly-created cost shift panel by saying, “This is a government that is in grave financial difficulty. Let me repeat it: the Illinois government is in grave financial difficulty.”
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While representatives of local school groups said they were concerned about how they would pay for the new costs, Madigan told reporters afterward, “Good ideas brought to this government were welcomed, they were made part of the state law, and we picked up the cost of them. We’re not in a position to continue that, and, unfortunately, we have to rescind some of the things we did in the past.” Madigan was pleased a representative of the state community college trustees bought into his idea and said he wished others were more receptive. Madigan has suggested a cost shift onto Downstate schools would be a separate bill to follow a pension restructuring bill which has passed his chamber.