Senate hears pension reform proposal for university employees

Jun 19, 2013

As lawmakers began returning to Springfield Tuesday, they had a hearing to consider the merits of yet another pension proposal. This one is aimed just at people who work for Illinois' public universities. IPR'S Brian Mackey has more.

Illinois university employees would be asked to pay two percent more out of every paycheck. And when they retired, cost-of-living increases would be just half the rate of inflation, instead of the current three percent compounded annually.

The plan, hatched by a group of academics at the University of Illinois, has been circulating in one form or another for months. But Tuesday's Senate hearing was the first time lawmakers gave it public consideration.

The question is: why now? Senate President John Cullerton says universities simply asked to have their idea heard.

"We're here on pensions, so we figured we'd hear what they have to say."

Cullerton, who is at odds with his House counterpart over how to address the pension problem, says the university plan could be a factor in fixing all the state's pension systems -- including those for state workers and public school teachers.

"You know, you could even have different solutions for different systems."

The presidents of Illinois' public universities unanimously support the plan.