A proposal that would shift the burden of teacher pension costs from the state income tax payer to the local property tax payer is gaining traction in the Illinois General Assembly, according to an article in the Daily Herald Tuesday.
Republican lawmakers traditionally have strongly opposed such legislation, however the Herald is reporting two Republicans, Rep. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst and David Harris of Arlington Heights, seem to be getting behind the idea.
Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, chairman of the House Pension Committee, has put forth a plan that would phase-in the costs to local school districts and require teachers and state workers to pay more into their retirement.
Elmhurst District 205 School Board officials have said repeatedly that any plan to shift the pension burden to local school districts would cripple public education by forcing major budget cuts. Officials say any cuts on top of the $1.2 million cut this year and the $3 million cut the previous year will dramatically change public education as we know it; programs would have to be eliminated and class sizes would grow.
Some state legislators have said the local districts have been too lenient in negotiating their teacher contracts and that having them pay the pension obligation would force them to hold the line on pension increases.
Of the state lawmakers who will be debating Nekritz's plan, more than 30 will be leaving the House and Senate on Jan. 9 when the new legislature is sworn in.
Rep. Nybo is one of those lame duck legislators. He lost his bid for an Illinois Senate seat in the 24th District to Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale in the Primary Election last March and is headed back to work in the private sector as an attorney.
Nybo was quoted in the Herald article as saying it would be a "travesty" not to settle the pension issue once and for all before the new General Assembly is seated.