Illinois Review

Local school districts could get hit with a multimillion dollar bill under a pension cost-shifting plan being floated by a top state Democrat.

Senate President John Cullerton is proposing that school districts cover the costs of teacher pensions. Those costs — estimated at about $700 million — are now covered by the state.

The Chicago Democrat is exploring the concept as an alternative to a Republican push to reduce pension benefits for teachers and other state employees, which he believes is unconstitutional.

“When school districts in the suburbs and downstate negotiate contracts and salaries, they don’t have to worry about the pensions because they, as the employers, contribute almost nothing to the pension funds,” Cullerton said in a statement. “I think we need to look at changing that.”

As of Thursday, no legislation outlining the switch had been filed. But Jeff Holmes, superintendent of the Clinton school district, echoed what other administrators were saying about the idea.

“I just don’t know how we would absorb that,” Holmes said Thursday. “I don’t know where they think we’d get that kind of money.”



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