Speaker Madigan Calls “Free Lunch” Pension Meeting

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is following through on his promise to try and relieve the state from having to pay for teachers’ retirement benefits.

The two chambers of the General Assembly are focused on competing proposals that seek to reduce the state’s pension costs.

What both plans have in common, though, is what they lack.

Neither shift the cost of downstate and suburban public schools teachers’ pensions from the state to the school districts that employ them.

When Speaker Mike Madigan last week passed legislation out of the House that cuts public employees’ pension benefits, he said he would follow up with a so-called “cost shift” measure.

“I intend to pursue the cost shift because I think we have a situation today where one person makes a spending decision and sends the bill to a second person to pay the bill.  And I think that’s a bad policy.  But especially a bad policy for governments.”

Madigan’s invited education groups to a meeting on Thursday — the first, according to a press release, of a series of meetings intended to finalize plans on a cost shift.

Critics – including many Republicans and Democrats from the suburbs — say shoving more costs on to schools will lead to a hike in local property taxes.

– Amanda Vinicky

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