Sen. Jim Oberweis compromise plan ignored as teacher pension spiking provision slips through
State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) believed he had a gentleman’s agreement with his Democratic counterparts to keep a cap in place that prevented teachers from spiking their pensions. And then at the last minute he didn’t.
“I talked to Andy Manar [D-Bunker Hill] about compromise language I had come up with, and he told me it sounded like a great idea,” Oberweis told Prairie State Wire. “Then at that last minute they sneak through language that removes the cap.”
The change the Senate sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, on Sunday as part of the budget removed a three percent cap imposed by the General Assembly just last year. Under it, the school district, not the state, would be responsible for the cost of the pension boost a teacher would receive thanks to late career salary increases over three percent. The Democratically controlled Senate voted to revert to an earlier, higher cap of six percent.
On the Senate floor, Oberweis pushed for his compromise plan: let the districts increase salaries as high as they like, but keep them, not state taxpayers, responsible for additional pension costs incurred under salary increases above three percent.
“This will cost the taxpayers millions, even billions more, if this type of nonsense is allowed to continue,” Oberweis said on the floor.
The teachers, through their unions, argue that the late career increases are justified since teachers near retirement often assumed additional duties – coaching, mentoring, curriculum development.
"I believe 90 percent of that is baloney," Oberweis told Prairie State Wire.
The economists at Wirepoints studied what the change is going to mean to taxpayers. As example, they looked at the automatic salary increases New Trier teachers receive.
“Take a New Trier teacher with a salary of $130,000 who recently committed to retiring in four years," the Wirepoints article said. "The 6 percent bumps will grow her salary to more than $164,000 at retirement. As a result, she’ll earn approximately $400,000 more in pension benefits over the course of her retirement when compared to a salary based on 2 percent annual raises.”