Pension Funding

There's more bad news on the state of the city's pension funds. The Civic Federation released a report examining the financial decline of Chicago-area public employee pension funds, emphasizing the urgency of pension reform efforts in Springfield. View the full report in the PDF below

What's being done in Springfield to solve the problem? Carol Marin talks with two legislators, and the author of the report on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

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And a new poll by Crain's Chicago Business shows that while most Illinois citizens want to reform the state's pension system, many oppose specific fixes. 

According to the poll, 57 percent of people think the state pension system should be overhauled "because it does not have the money to meet it's existing and future pension obligations." Only 26 percent thought the state should honor the current pension system. 

But when asked about four potential fixes, only one received majority support. 

That option, having state workers contribute another 3 percent of their wages towards their pensions, got 57 percent approval. 

"People aren't happy with the situation as it is now and they want change," says Crain's political reporter Greg Hinz. "But implementing almost any level of change is going to require someone in political office sucking it up and inflicting some pain. It's the proverbial mixed bag."

Hinz says he was most surprised by the "only" 47 percent of residents who supported raising the retirement age to 67.

"In the private sector now, that's standard operating procedure," he says. "That's typical, like it or not, of what we're all facing."

The poll also asked about shifting pension obligations for teachers, now paid for by the state, to local school districts. Republicans in Springfield have opposed such a shift.

Forty-five percent of respondents approved the current, state-funded system, while 28 percent preferred the shift. 

"It plays right into the dynamic that's holding things up in Springfield," Hinz says. "If I were [Senate Republican Leader] Christine Radogno or [House Republican Leader] Tom Cross, I'd be real happy about that finding. It gives them some ammunition."

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, is a first for Crain's and the first state-level poll for Ipsos. The pair will conduct monthly polls with a mix of tracking questions--What is your opinion of Gov. Pat Quinn?--and more timely questions, such as pension reform. 

"All of our stories are reported out, but this gives us another research tool to test our thesis," says Crain's editor Michael Arndt. 

What are your thoughts about bipartisan pension reform? Post your comments below or sound off on our discussion board!

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