State teacher pension system sees returns

Aug 20, 2013

Illinois' largest public pension system saw greater than expected returns, according to an early analysis of the last fiscal year's investments. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports: 

 The Teachers Retirement System saw a 13.2-percent rate of return -- more than half a percentage point higher than the benchmark it had set, and well over last year's returns, which were less than one-percent.

  “It was a very good year despite the fact that the economy and the investment markets were very volatile.”

 That's TRS spokesman Dave Urbanek, who says it's an important number.  But he says more telling for Illinois' suburban and public school teachers, whose pensions are managed by TRS, is the long-term rate of return. He says that number was also better than expected -- 9 percent instead of 8.

The performance of Illinois' pensions systems matters even to those who'll never collect -- the state has the nation's largest unfunded pension liability, about $100 billion.

Urbanek says TRS's success this year does change things for the better, but only slightly.Legislators continue to debate how to reduce the state's costs.