The Illinois Senate president says it’s time for school districts to pay the employer’s share of teachers’ pensions. The state now pays $2.5 billion for pensions for teachers Downstate and in the suburbs. The Chicago schools pay for their own teacher pensions, and Senate President John Cullerton says Downstate and suburban schools should do that too.
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“I don’t think anybody can really, with a straight face, say that it’s fair. It’s just that we have to figure out a way to allow them over time to start making those payments,” he said. That means that school districts would not be on the hook for past under-funding, and they would not be expected to make a switch overnight. But he wants them to have “some skin in the game” when it comes to awarding and funding pensions for teachers. Cullerton says this won’t necessarily mean an increase in local school taxes. He says the matter can be brought up in contract negotiations with teachers, who may consider a local contribution, if contractually required, to be a better deal than the state’s precarious pension situation.