NIU, higher ed leaders talk pension plan

A pension reform plan outlined Thursday by House Speaker Michael Madigan would shift costs to universities, reduce cost-of-living-adjustments in retirement and offer a choice between accepting the lesser, Tier II cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) with access to the state’s retiree health care plan or maintaining the current COLA with a freeze on pay raises counting toward future pension benefits and no access to the state’s retiree health care plan.

Higher education representatives – including those at Northern Illinois University – met today with Gov. Pat Quinn’s pension working group to explain the effect potential pension changes will have on the quality of higher education in the state of Illinois and on retention and attraction of qualified educators and administrators to state universities.

NIU has reiterated to state lawmakers its position that an acceptable pension stabilization plan should provide:

  • A fair and equitable distribution of the pension obligation;
  • A transition period that allows employees and the university to adjust to new rules;
  • Future financial sustainability for all parties involved;
  • A credible promise of retirement security for employees; and
  • A retirement package attractive enough that it will not hinder the ability to recruit and retain staff and faculty.

At this point, pension changes are not expected to include an increase in the retirement age to 67 or an increase in employee contributions to the retirement systems. Speaker Madigan has indicated that a vote of both houses is likely prior to May 31.

As this critical phase of pension discussions unfolds, updates will be posted to NIU’s State Pension & Budget Update website in addition to NIU Today.

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