Governor’s Pension Plan Concern for Naperville Districts

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“If you separate the payment from accountability, there is no accountability. People don’t question the expense; they just pay it.”

This was the reason Governor Bruce Rauner gave in his 2018 budget address for shifting the cost of teacher pensions to local districts.

“Now, they have no incentive to manage costs because the state picks them up no matter what they are. When they are responsible for paying the bill, there will be plenty of incentive to lower costs,” Rauner said.

The governor’s plan would shift the cost of teacher pensions to the districts by an additional 25 percent per year over four years, saving the state $1.3 billion in pension costs.

“I am a taxpayer, and that sounds great until I sit on the board and then figure out what it does to the educational system and perhaps my property values in the long term,” said Michael Raczack, District 204 board president.

For districts like 204, the change would mean funding $3.8 million the first year and the full $15.2 million in the fourth year and every year that follows.

District 203’s chief financial officer says there is currently not enough information to run exact numbers, but board members believe 203 is more prepared to deal with the change than some other districts, as they have a greater surplus.

“The question would be how much surplus is enough for us to survive on? Is six months enough? Is eight months enough? You know, I don’t know. It depends on what the state’s going to do,” said 203 board member Terry Fielden.

The governor’s proposal would also require universities to take over their pension costs under the same plan.

Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.