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UI explores other pension options

Update: 10:09 pm UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- UI leaders are looking for another way to pay out pensions.
Update: 10:09 pm
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- UI leaders are looking for another way to pay out pensions. They worry the state's overhaul may not be good for the school.

President Bob Easter sent a letter to staff members last week stating leaders are trying to figure out how to make up for the benefits workers will lose. Lawmakers approved the changes last week, but the university says cutting benefits could make it harder to attract good people.

The Board of Trustees could take up a possible solution at a meeting in January.
Original: 3:48 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- The UI is trying to figure out a way around the new pension reform law. Under the new law, university employees will have to work longer and will get less money when they retire. It could keep top professors from wanting to come to Illinois. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

The university is looking into a supplemental retirement plan. Last week, after pension reform passed at the Capitol, UI President Bob Easter, sent a letter to staff stating leaders are exploring different options because the one on the table just isn't going to work.

The University of Illinois is known for its strong academics and research. That's why students and staff from all over the world choose to come here. But, that reputation could be in jeopardy.

"I don't know what to say to people to bring them here. 'Stay for the high taxes. Stay for a pension that might or might not happen.' I don't know how to sell the university anymore."

Jorge Villegas teaches at UIS. He's one of many who worry changes to pensions will drive away top-notch professors, creating a ripple effect throughout the university.

"They bring the best research, the bring the research dollars. You see students choosing based on who's doing the research at the university. Without them, really, the University of Illinois wouldn't be as strong as it is right now."

That's why they're figuring out other options to make up for lost retirement benefits.

"We know that the president and his team is working on some kind of supplemental plan."

No one knows yet what a plan might look like, but Villegas says it won't be easy.

"We don't have any extra money anywhere. They need to figure out how it's going to happen. It's not magic. It's going to cost. There's going to be a sacrifice involved for all of us."

A sacrifice he says they're going to have to make if the UI is going to continue to compete with other top schools. The university says it will have more details at its board meeting in January.

One thing to keep in mind, the whole pension issue will likely end up in court.
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