CHICAGO — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker wants to consolidate nearly 650 downstate and suburban police and firefighter pension funds.
It took eight months for the governor and his task force to come up with the plan, which was announced Thursday. He wants to create a statewide pension system and Chicago will not be part of it, at least not yet.
The governor claims his proposal for a statewide pension system will save taxpayers, give retirees what they need and save our state millions, possibly billions of dollars.
“Taxpayers are having to come up with nearly a million dollars a day to make up for the underperformance of their local pension plans,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
The plan calls for taking 649 individual downstate and suburban pension funds and making two statewide funds, one for firefighters and one for police.
The taskforce said by combining the assets the pension funds stand to earn $820 million to $2.5 billion in the next five years alone.
More money, they said, means more returns.
“We know that every dollar we can raise in interest is a dollar that doesn’t have to be raised in taxes,” said state treasurer Michael Frerichs.
The task force said it took a lot of thoughtful discussion and compromise to get to this point. And they kept special interests out of the room.
“I will wholeheartedly rec to my former colleagues that they pass this legislation in the veto session so we can immediately begin to reap the benefits of close to a million dollars a day,” former Republican leader Christine Radogono said.
The public safety pension funds have nearly $11.5 million in unfunded liabilities. Consolidating them is not a new idea. But it is the first time, the governor said, in 75 years that a deal like this could gain traction in Springfield.
Illinois’ statewide public pension funds and Chicago’s $28 billion are not part of the plan. But the governor says there’s more to come.
“It takes time,” he said. “You have to bring all the stakeholders to the table and I know that’s something that will be important to think about for the city of Chicago as well as for the state.”
The governor is hoping this proposal will be approved during the veto session which starts October 28.