Legislators left Springfield Friday to resolve what is now estimated at a $130 billion unfunded state pension liability.
Lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on how to reform the public pension system during a special session called by Gov. Pat Quinn.
The inaction led Standard & Poor’s to start the process of reviewing the state’s credit rating, and drew a reaction from trustee Garrett Peck, a Republican seeking election to the 49th District State Senate Seat.
“This was unfortunately another missed opportunity by our state leaders to sit down and try and get to the root of our pension problem and publicly address it. Instead, they used it as an excuse to merely say they tried tackle the problem for their campaign commercials,” Peck said, calling a proposal to shift pension costs onto local school districts "unacceptable."
“ … The frustrating thing is that a bipartisan outline for pension reform already exists and was agreed to last spring, when the governor and house speaker interjected this unrelated issue of the cost shift into the debate. Shifting costs does not reform the system, reduce costs or save taxpayer dollars. It only shifts the costs from one pocket to the other,” Peck said.
Peck will face Democrat Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, the current Will County regional superintendent of schools, in the November election.
Schools planning for the worst
The failed special session left local school districts with no indication whether they will have to take on the pension burden, or whether it will happen all at once or be phased in over a period of time.
“Some of those things are a mystery,” board president Roger Bonuchi said.
The failed session means districts must plan their budgets without knowing what will happen regarding pensions.
“We have to have our budget laid out before we really know what the General State Aid (GSA) per student’s going to be,” Bonuchi added.
Officials are anticipating an for District 202 based on the assumption that GSA will be prorated at a rate of 89 percent. Currently, it’s paid out at a rate of 95 percent.
The 2012-13 budget is currently on display, and board members are slated to vote on it on Sept. 24.
“We just have to plan for the worst,” Bonuchi said.
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