To the Editor:
In your recent profile of gubernatorial agendas and results (Special Report: Executive Agendas, March 22, 2006), you failed to mention a burning issue in the state of Illinois: teacher pensions. Our legislature regularly practices “pension holidays,” with no argument from Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. The legislature continually neglects its requirement to adequately fund a portion of teacher pensions. Teachers must contribute more than 9 percent every year. The stress on the pension system has caused the legislature to write laws that essentially cap teacher salaries.
The potential erosion of teacher pensions, along with unfair school funding, reliance on property taxes to fund schools, low salaries, and salary caps, should be a warning to teachers and unions throughout the country. How many other states are balancing their budgets by mortgaging teacher pensions?
A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2006 edition of Education Week as Balancing State Budgets With Teachers’ Pensions?