Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says shifting the cost of employee pensions from the state to local school districts “is going to happen.”
And for the first time, schools sounded receptive to the idea during a hearing Thursday.
Madigan didn’t have a timeline for when schools would start paying for the so-called “cost shift.”
He did say that after a year of discussing the issue, schools should have some idea of how to pay for pensions.
MADIGAN: “You know, we’re not here to intimidate people. We’re here simply to say ‘Look, everybody in Illinois has a huge problem. It’s called the fiscal condition of the state of Illinois.’ We have to join together.”
Downstate and suburban schools have long opposed the idea, saying they’d have to lay off employees or raise property taxes.
But the Illinois Association of School Boards offered a plan: schools could pick-and-choose which state-mandated programs to fund, and then have the savings go toward pensions.
Mike Jacoby represents school business officials.
JACOBY: “Those are the kinds of things that could give us the freedom to implement and embrace new costs without having to lay off personnel.”
Jacoby said in addition to saving money for pensions, schools could eliminate programs that aren’t suited for their area.