Workers worried over costly wording of pension law

By Alex Davis |, Amanda Porterfield |

Published 04/24 2014 05:49PM

Updated 04/29 2014 05:25PM

Latest: 5:01 pm, 4/29/14, Tuesday
ILLINOIS -- An error by lawmakers could mean big problems for the state in the very near future. There's a glitch in the wording of the pension law. It reduces benefits which could lead to a wave of workers retiring.

Last year at this time, just over 900 people employed at Illinois' universities had filed retirement applications. This year, that number has doubled. As of last week, 1,700 applications were turned in. Many say they feel pressured to retire earlier to get ahead of the state pension overhaul. It takes effect in June.

This glitch didn't help matters. It would substantially reduce their retirement benefits after June 29. Officials with the State Universities Retirement System say they hope lawmakers fix the mistake soon to give employees more time to make a retirement decision.

But, there's no bill yet to fix the problem. Some lawmakers are pushing to fix it, but there are many other legislators who are hesitant to revisit the issue since it took so long to pass it.
Update: 10:09 pm, 4/24/14, Thursday
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- The UI is working with lawmakers to make changes to a bill which could cost them hundreds of employees. President Robert Easter wrote a letter Thursday stating a typo in the state's funding law could significantly reduce pension benefits.

It affects about 500 employees under the money purchase option. The clause would lock in benefits for employees still working and was supposed to start June 2014. However, the bill says 2013. It's a mistake. The UI is hoping the state will issue another bill to correct the wording.

"We would like to see this legislation to be corrected as soon as possible so that we don't end the academic year with an exodus of employees as part of an unintended consequence of a mistake," says Tom Hardy, executive director for media relations.

The legislature is on recess and won't be able to make the change for a few weeks. However, the UI says they've talked to some at the Capitol who believe it should be an easy fix.
Original: 5:49 pm, 4/24/14, Thursday
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- Staff and faculty at UI got an email which has everyone upset. President Robert Easter says there was a glitch in the wording of the state's public pension funding law. The error eliminates a year of pension contributions and interest and reduces benefits. Easter says he's been in talks with lawmakers to address the problem.

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