Pension questions addressed

Published 08/08 2013 01:15PM

Updated 08/08 2013 01:20PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Many are confused about the state's public pension situation. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels explains where it stands and what it means for you.

The debates have been heated, the problem has been growing and the topic is downright confusing. In the past few months, lawmakers have sifted through dozens of pension fixes to try to curb the state's $100-billion shortfall. It's leaving a lot of residents wondering what the deal is.

Some of what's taking so long can be attributed to the state's constitution. It says the state can't diminish or impair pension benefits.

All of the fixes would make some cuts which is worrying lawmakers the whole thing will end up in court with no budget savings at all. So, they're stuck trying to find a way to do more with less money.

Another concern addresses the full-funding of lawmakers' pensions and why it's not being looked at for cuts. The latest figures actually show the General Assembly Retirement System is actually the worst off when it comes to funding which is at 18.5%.

The best funded system is for teachers. The only pension system currently not on the chopping block is the one for judges. That's because, if a reform plan does end up in court, there could be a conflict of interest.

The most common question is why retirees will be stuck paying for the problem when they've made contributions but the state hasn't. There's no simple answer to this one.

Over the years, money which was supposed to go into the pension funds, went to other state programs like schools and roads. If we don't want cuts there, there will have to be cuts made from pensions instead.

So, even though it may seem unfair, everyone has to share the pain to get Illinois back on track. Lawmakers say they're closer than ever to finalizing a plan. They could return in a few weeks to vote.

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