Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Friday in Moline that shifting teacher-pension costs from the state to local school districts should be among the fixes being considered for the under-funded pension system.|
The state's various pension systems are about $85 billion short. The state has failed for years to adequately contribute to the systems for state employees, university staff, elected officials and downstate and suburban Chicago teachers. Other issues, such as the poor economy, have contributed to the problem.
Trying to reduce that gap each year eats up state government's limited funds, leaving little for other needs.
"It's come to the point of needing tough love," Mr. Rutherford said during a conversation Friday with The editorial board of The Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus.
He believes members of the General Assembly need to look further down the road than the next election to what will help Illinois' residents in the future.
While repairing the pensions may not directly end the state's other financial challenges, it may not be possible to deal with the other issues until the pension fix happens, Mr. Rutherford said.
One proposal for handling teachers' pensions is a shift of the burden from state to local school districts.
Mr. Rutherford said he does not believe that would be a total fix, but believes it should be on the table with other issues the local school districts deal with -- from other state mandates to transportation -- to see what happens.
During the visit, he also touted the I-Cash program, which is the state's effort to return unclaimed property to its owners or their heirs.
The treasurer's office has about $1.6 billion in unclaimed property, and Illinoisans can search a database to see if they or other members of their families have any waiting for them.
Things overseen by the state include abandoned bank accounts, stocks and the contents of safe-deposit boxes. They are sent to the state treasurer if someone cannot be found to rightfully claim them.
Last year, more than $100 million worth of property was returned. More can be found at icash.illinois.gov.
The Associate Press Contributed to this Report.
East moline, IL Details
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