Forum: CPS to blame for pension crisis
September 20, 2013 10:16PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:45AM
I want to add context to the discussion about funding for the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. CTPF is a $9.5 billion plan that provides retirement security for more than 59,000 members who do not contribute to or receive Social Security benefits.
When properly funded by teachers and employers, our system works as designed. Money comes in, CTPF invests it (8.7 percent average annual return, 1978-2012) and pays benefits.
In 1995, this system was disrupted. Teachers continued to contribute but the employer stopped. With permission from the General Assembly, the Chicago Board of Education diverted CTPF’s property tax levy to other school-related uses.
From 1995-2006, Chicago Public Schools collected $2 billion in pension tax revenue but contributed nothing to support our plan. Those painful years of neglect and an additional $1.2 billion in “pension holidays” shortchanged our members so severely that today CPS’ debt to the pension fund is $640 million per year in interest alone.
As the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability reported recently, the real cost of pensions is not the benefits that CTPF pays retirees but the interest incurred daily on CPS debt.
When CPS received its second “pension holiday” in 2010, it promised to bring CTPF up to full funding by 2059. It’s time to uphold that promise. There are many options — restore the tax levy, increase taxes, refinance pension debt or eliminate funding schemes that artificially lowered historical payments. No matter the path, we must restore revenue and stabilize funding for CTPF.
Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Board of Trustees
Not ‘no growth,’ but no breaks
I am writing because it seems people have the idea that homeowners around the area of 191st Street and Harlem Avenue in Tinley Park are against business growth.
On the contrary, speaking for myself, a 10-year homeowner in the Brookside Glen subdivision near the intersection, business growth is essential to keeping an area vital and to attract families. What I am against is a community’s lack of input into what is good growth and what is forced growth.
Putting more big-box stores in that area is not safe. Traffic is already bad in the area around Harlem Avenue and Interstate 80.
Also, in these days of dwindling financial resources for towns, to give substantial tax breaks to Wal-Mart, the biggest retail corporation in the world, is obscene.
Denied anti-Daley vote
I write to express the great, deep regret I am sure my fellow Illinoisans feel at the news that William Daley has decided not to run for governor in the Democratic Party primary election.
This is a tragic day, as we have all been deprived of the chance to vote against a member of the Daley family. Oh, the humanity!