Illinois pension conference cost taxpayers at least $8 million

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Here’s a surprising statistic: Illinois has 656 local police and fire pension funds, and the cost of that is illustrated this week when they all came together for an annual meeting.

They held the gathering at the Grand Geneva Resort in Wisconsin. According to WCIA, 3,000 people attended the conference at a cost to taxpayers of at least $8 million.

There’s a bill in Springfield to combine many police and fire pension program to save costs.

The fund’s current managers insist cops and firefighters would lose access to local pension planners, and they claim the savings would be relatively small.

“Everyone thinks they wave a magic wand and this is going to be 'Wow, wow, wow, it’ll save all this money,'" said Jim McNamee with the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association. "But it’s $20,000-$25,000 per city. They say ‘oh that moves the needle.' It doesn’t move the needle at all."

The Illinois Public Pension Fund Association says lawmakers should lift limits on how it invests so they can earn bigger returns.

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