Champaign, IL – Gov. Pritzker on Wednesday introduced his fiscal year 2023 budget that includes the full certified state contribution to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) of $2,118,567,000.
To reduce the unfunded liabilities of the five state-funded systems (the General Assembly Retirement System, the State Employees Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System and the Judges Retirement System), the governor also proposed an additional $500 million be paid directly to the Pension Stabilization Fund, reducing long-term liabilities by $1.8 billion.
“I believe in paying our debts,” said Gov. Pritzker. “Each year I’ve served as governor, our state has met its pension payment obligations. But when we are able, I think we ought to do more than just pay the minimum. That’s why I propose making not only our minimum pension payment this year but also an additional half a billion dollars.
“If approved by the General Assembly, this will be the first time since the beginning of the 1994 pension funding ramp that we will reduce our pension debt by more than our required contribution.”
“This is welcome news for SURS and all of the state’s public pension systems,” said SURS Executive Director Suzanne Mayer. “Reducing unfunded liabilities is critical to building financially stronger systems.”
The governor also renewed his support of pension protections.
“For longer than I can remember, the pension naysayers have told us we should ignore the constitution and the protections it provides and instead break our promises to retirees,” said Pritzker. “I won’t do that. Instead, we are tackling our pension problem with responsible pension investment decisions, solid investment returns and expansion of the pension buyout program. As a result, pension liabilities are down, and pension assets are up. There’s more work to do, but pension payments as a percentage of our budget have finally flattened and are projected to decline. Great’s news for pensioners and taxpayers alike.”
“Gov. Pritzker is once again standing up for our members and defending the retirement benefits promised them,” said SURS Chairman John Atkinson. “As state and local legislatures across the country consider scaling back and changing retirement benefits of public employees, the governor is focused on preserving future payments to state workers.”
The FY 2023 proposed budget will also increase Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding to $600 million (a one-year $122 million increase), pay off the $230 million unfunded liability for College Illinois! prepaid tuition plan and increase funding for minority teacher scholarships.
“In years past, higher education had become an afterthought in our state budgets,” said Pritzker. “Because of the disinvestment, post-secondary education became more and more expensive for students and their families. That’s why at the beginning of my term I pledged to do three things to address this problem: Increase MAP scholarships, get more Pell Grants and low-cost federal loans for Illinois students, and increase direct support for institutions of higher learning.”