Teachers from across the area will descend on House Minority Leader Tom Cross’ Plainfield office this afternoon to protest proposed changes to their state pension system.
The rally, planned for 3:30 p.m. at Cross’ office at 24047 West Lockport St., could draw several dozen teachers to protest a proposal that involves the state putting its agreed upon contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System back on to local school districts.
The rally is being organized by Educators United for Strong Public Schools and its partner, Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice. The group has held two previous protests — the first on May 4 outside State Sen. Mike Noland’s Elgin office and another May 17 outside the Naperville office of State Rep. Darlene Senger.
Illinois currently has an $83 billion unfunded pension liability—$44 billion of which is from the TRS. The state has to come up with $5.1 billion for pensions next year, the Associated Press reports.
House Speaker Michael Madigan also recently added three amendments to House Bill 3637, which would allow the state to tap into the corporate personal property replacement tax to help cover teacher pensions.
Under the proposal, local governments—including municipalities, schools, libraries and park districts—could lose as much as $1.4 billion from the CPPRT, a 2.5 percent tax on corporations that is collected by the state and earmarked for local governments. Madigan's proposal was not called for a committee vote last week, but it could be called soon, according to Joe McCoy, legislative director for the Illinois Municipal League.
Joni Lindgren, a spokeswoman for EUSPS, is a retired West Aurora School District teacher who taught for 27 years. She said today’s rally will include a request to speak with Cross by phone in the hopes of asking him two questions — are public forums planned before any pension reform legislation is voted upon, and will the legislature consider tax reform such as a graduated income tax to help fix massive budget shortfalls.
“This debate has really been going on for two years,” Lindgren said. “We finally decided enough is enough. This isn’t a pension problem. What we have is a revenue problem.”
The group also plans to present Cross’ office with petition signed by several hundred area teachers demanding public forums on pension reform.
“Before any vote is taken, public input should be solicited and considered from retirees and active teachers who would be most affected by the proposals being discussed,” said John Laesch, a spokesman for NIJWJ.
Today’s rally also will include remarks from Roger Sanders, retired assistant superintendent from Oswego School District 308.