House committee considers pension proposals

With Illinois facing increasing challenges to fund existing defined-benefit pension commitments, some House members are looking at potential constitutional alternative policies. In some cases, these proposals could reduce current costs and future unfunded pension liabilities borne by Illinois’ five state-managed pension systems. Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities currently top $110 billion.

Of the five state-managed pension funds, the largest is the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), a quasi-state agency that manages pension funds for Illinois teachers, educators, and employees of local school districts and makes payouts to eligible pensioners. Other funds benefit state employees, the employees of state universities, judges, and legislators.

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee looked at two bills this week that, if passed into law, could encourage existing public-sector employees with vested pension status to consider the buyout of some or all of their future benefits. Employees who take a buyout would be given a one-time payout of funds, and would enjoy the opportunity to invest them for a payout that would match their future life plans.

Bills considered this week included HB 4427, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, and HB 5625, sponsored by Rep. Mike Fortner. Both bills were held in committee for further discussion.