Wednesday, December 4, 2013

UI, other universities oppose pension proposal

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other leaders of the state's public universities have come out in opposition to the pension reform plan expected to be called for a vote on Tuesday.

In letters sent to House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and other legislative leaders, Easter and the presidents of Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University and other state universities expressed "profound disappointment" in the legislation.

Easter and his staff spent much of Monday reading the 325-page bill posted that morning. As expected, it calls for a number of changes: the cost-of-living increases for retiree payments would be based on years of service and the consumer price index; it proposes a cap (currently $109,971) on how much salary can be used to calculate pension benefits; and it pushes back the retirement age for some workers, among other changes.

"It's pretty straightforward," Easter said about his opposition to the legislation. "The COLA adjustment and other provisions just make it, we think, a very significant impairment to higher education in Illinois and in particular, our ability to recruit and retain the kind of faculty and staff we need to be the kind of university the state wants us to be," Easter told The News-Gazette.

The story was published in the Champaign News-Gazette on December 3, 2013.

Read the article online