The Illinois Federation of Teachers is pushing a new bipartisan pension reform bill, Senate Bill 2404. Of course the union likes it. It places the burden mostly on state government -- in other words, the taxpayers.
Under this bill the state would promise to catch up the pension funds; if the state failed to stay on schedule in making the funds whole, a pension fund or an individual could go to court to force the payments.
By contrast, the bill requires minimal sacrifice from employees. They would have to pay in an additional 2 percent into their pensions but existing benefits would not change.
The state is going to need a lot more concessions from workers if the bill stands a chance of passage -- a reduced cost-of-living benefit, for example.
Even with more concessions, can the state afford such a commitment? The bill doesn't address how Illinois pays for this. The pension funds are short $96 billion. How does the state catch up that backlog and still has the money to operate the rest of government?