In a State Journal-Register op-ed yesterday, the Illinois Federation of Teachers' Steve Preckwinkle reminded readers that Illinois teachers don't receive Social Security, so the pension changes that zoomed through the General Assembly two weeks ago are going to hit them extra hard:
Teachers gave up the option to be part of Social Security years ago because they believed in the fairness of the existing pension plan, which was jointly funded by teachers and the state. Illinois taxpayers save more than $700 million per year by not paying Social Security payroll taxes for 78 percent of all active employees in the five state-managed plans, including all public school teachers. Unfortunately, the state routinely skipped its payments, causing today’s mountain of pension debt. Teachers never missed a contribution.
So now we will look again at the Social Security option for new teachers. Under state and federal law, they still have the right to be covered. And yes, it will cost hundreds of millions of new taxpayer-funded dollars should they choose coverage. Sorry, General Assembly, but even you can’t skip out on Social Security taxes once your employees are part of the system.