Outside contractors at Illinois State University have been designated as eligible for state pensions. Meanwhile, the governor is vowing pension reform. State law allows universities to make a designation that employees of outside organizations associated with the university can participate in the state pension system, though the university doesn’t hire the employees or pay their salaries.
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Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s unfamiliar with the particulars of this situation, but he says he will insist that pensions be addressed next year, and he’ll appoint a work group to get to the bottom of things. He says a working group, under the direction of former chief of staff Jerry Stermer, is what produced reforms this year in the areas of workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and education. Illinois State says it’s common for public universities to do this with private groups, noting that the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois do it too. The state’s pension funds are short of money because lawmakers haven’t contributed through the years what they should have. However, revelations recently about some of the folks who are allowed to participate in the pension plans, or what they’re able to do to significantly boost their benefits, have prompted calls for reform.