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Women’s league holds pension study meeting

Updated: February 28, 2013 6:24AM



An Illinois Pension Study committee from the Homewood-Flossmoor Area, the Park Forest Area and the Palos-Orland Area Leagues of Women Voters spent the last few months studying the five Illinois State Employee Retirement systems.

These systems include the Teachers Retirement System, the State University Retirement System, the State Employee Retirement System, the Judges Retirement System and the General Assembly Retirement System.

“These pension systems have not been regularly funded by the General Assembly for at least 30 years,” said Syvia Tillman, chairperson of the Homewood-Flossmoor and Park Forest study committees. “The legally required payments have been diverted to other state expenses, and now the pension systems are owed $85 billion by the state to assure they are fully funded.

“This is a critical debt that needs to be resolved. The league cannot advocate or lobby on the issue of pensions if we do not have a position. The purpose of the study is to develop a position so we can take action.”

To gain an understanding of the complex problems and systems – which league officials said all have unique operations – many of the members of the committee attended a panel discussion of the issues.

Presenters included Scott Unler, an attorney who represents school districts; Dick Ingram, executive director of the Teachers Retirement System; and state Rep. Bill Cunningham (35th).

At the completion of the study, the Homewood-Flossmoor and Park Forest area leagues decided to hold their consensus meeting together; Palos-Orland held its own meeting.

Following the presentation of material by Barbara Moore, Erin Roeper, Tillman, Anne Marie Leofanti and Heidi Keenan, the audience divided into their respective leagues and engaged in discussion.

Consensus questions discussed included 16 potential changes. Some of these proposed changes included raising the minimum retirement age, increasing the minimum number of years of service requirement for full retirement, increasing required employee contribution to the pension plan, strengthening anti-spiking provisions, and establishing maximum annual pension benefits.

Written reports on the results of the consensus meetings were sent to the state league office. The state pension committee then collated all the results from the local league reports to formulate a position.

Information: www.lwvil.org.

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