House Republicans: Democrat Pension Shift would be Disastrous for Local Schools, Property Taxpayers

From the Ill GOP House Republicans…

Springfield — A Democrat-backed plan to shift a portion of the state’s pension obligation to local schools and universities would be disastrous for the schools and for the taxpayers that fund them, a group of House Republicans stressed today. At a Capitol press conference, the lawmakers said that simply shifting the pension funding burden does nothing to solve the core problem, and would inevitably lead to property tax increases and teacher layoffs.

“Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the country, simply shifting a portion of the financial responsibility to local school districts and public universities does nothing to reduce long-term costs or stabilize our pension systems. This is basically rearranging deck chairs while the Titanic continues to sink,” said Representative Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein).

Representative Kent Gaffney (R- Lake Barrington) said the Democrats’ pension shift would eat up about 9% of local school districts’ total payroll budgets. For the Wauconda School District 118 in his area, that would mean about $2.24 million.

“Schools are already waiting months for reimbursement from the state and school transportation dollars have been slashed. If the Democrats move forward with the shift, schools will have even fewer payroll dollars to pay teachers’ salaries, and will be forced to enact layoffs,” Gaffney said.

Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) said he’s also extremely concerned about the certain impact the shift would have on family budgets already stretched to the breaking point.

“This shift will leave schools no place to go but back to their local property taxpayers. It will lead to huge property tax increases and tuition increases for our university students. Families are already struggling under the 67% income tax increase Democrats’ forced upon them last year. Adding property tax and tuition increases on top of that would be absolutely devastating,” Morthland said.

“Nearly one year ago Quinn signed into law massive tax increases on working families, seniors and businesses, and now Quinn wants to move forward with another ill-advised plan to reform pensions by raising taxes. . . property taxes,” said State Representative Paul Evans (R-O’Fallon) “ I am in strong support of reforming our state’s pension system which faces $83 billion in unfunded liabilities, but I am adamantly opposed to shifting that massive financial burden on homeowners’ property tax bills. The Governor must stop seeing tax hikes as a solution to every state problem and come to the table to discuss with lawmakers long-term reform plans to get our state back on track.”

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