Quinn revealed his budget proposal last week in the hopes that the budget changes would result in Illinois being able to avoid a financial collapse. Quinn said that rising pension and health care costs are a significant portion of the costs the state is facing. Illinois TRS and retired Illinois teacher benefits are not the only place the governor is looking to trim though. State agencies, prisons, and mental wards are looking to see much of their budgets getting the axe as well.
These cuts to retired Illinois teacher health insurance would save the state about $92 million. Sounds like a big number to an individual but that is an insignificant percentage of our state’s budget. Teachers and those in favor of keeping Illinois TRS & retirement benefits intact would counter with the fact that many teachers have paltry pensions that average out at $43,000 a year and would struggle to be able to add paying their own health insurance costs to their budgets.
We will see what happens in regard to teacher benefits and our budget, but it seems like the momentum from state senators and house reps as well as now from the governor with this recent budget proposal is heading towards teachers, either working or retired (or potentially both), having to take some sort of cuts in their pension or health care benefits.
It is unfortunate to see public officials as well as many individuals throughout the state calling for teachers to “stop being greedy” when teachers have paid loyally into the system. I wonder how they would feel if the state told all of them that they were establishing a tax to take a percentage of all 401(k) plans from private sector workers; even though they had built up their account through salary contributions for decades of work.
Stay tuned for what is on the horizon for Illinois teacher retirement.