Statement by Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association
In his State of the State address today, Governor Quinn today suggested that Illinois can balance the budget by reforming pensions, implying that pensions are the cause of our state’s fiscal problems.
To be clear, pensions didn’t cause education to be underfunded over decades. The state saved billions by not funding pensions, yet continued to underfund education. Cutting pension benefits for teachers and other public employees is not a plan for balancing the state’s budget.
Illinois has shortchanged generations of children, underfunding preK though 12 education and our higher education institutions, just as the state consistently diverted money from the pension systems, creating the pension underfunding problem.
The governor indicated Senate Bill 1 is a potential framework for a pension solution. If so, we welcome the opportunity to see if that proposal can be built upon, made constitutional and provide a way for Illinois to increase revenue, reduce the state’s debt, shore up the pension systems and get Illinois back on solid fiscal footing.