Daley Blasts Bill to Raise Teacher Pensions

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Byline: Jim Allen Daily Herald Staff Writer

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his education team are fighting a state proposal to boost teacher pension perks, saying it will undercut the city school system's recovery.

"It's the election-year pension bill, but unfortunately it has provisions that would allow for a 50 to 60 percent pension benefit increase, which would add $3.1 billion to the unfunded liability of the state system," said Paul Vallas, chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools.

Vallas is Daley's former budget chief who was assigned the job of rebuilding the troubled school system. He predicted the cost of the pension bonus for Chicago's schools would be $154 million over the next decade.

An even larger burden would hit the state, because the same perks would go to state employees, university workers and teachers in the state retirement system. But unlike suburban and downstate schools, Chicago must fund and account for its pension system.

Officials with the Chicago Teachers Union countered that the school board's fears might be eased by accounting changes next year. Those will allow the board to rate pension assets by their "market value" rather than their original purchase price or cost.

But Greg A. Richmond, the legislative coordinator for the Chicago Public Schools, said the inflated value of the pension next year won't make it easier to cover escalating costs.

The measure would give teachers across Illinois and state workers 2.2 percent of their income for every year they are in the system. …