10-year freeze on teacher salaries to fix state budget? - DailyHerald.com
If the Illinois Supreme Court strikes down a law trying to cut teachers' and state workers' pension benefits, those employees won't necessarily be able to breathe a sigh of relief, state Sen. Matt Murphy says.
Instead, the Palatine Republican told officials in Rolling Meadows this week, lawmakers will have to look at other ways to cut those benefits.
Murphy was asked at Rolling Meadows' State of the City event Monday what could be done if the law and the state budget savings expected to come with it are ruled unconstitutional later this year.
Murphy said that if lawmakers aren't allowed to make the benefit-cutting moves they already have, they'd have to look at other areas like teacher salaries.
Pension levels are set by the size of a worker's salary and how long they've been working.
He said the state's budget trouble means the moves might have to be significant, using in Rolling Meadows the example of a 10-year freeze on teacher salaries.
Murphy said Tuesday he's not proposing such a freeze but wanted to make the point that the state's pension debt is staggering.
"The areas we can go into to solve the problem become more difficult," he said.
Oral arguments in the pension case are likely for this spring, and lower courts have so far ruled that the new law should be tossed.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to propose his budget to lawmakers today, and the state's yearly payment for public worker pensions is set to rise by $700 million, leaving less money to pay for other programs like schools, prisons, state parks and care for the disabled.