by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
About 1,400 Chicago public school teachers and staff are expected to lose their jobs in order to finance a pension debt of $634 million, the city announced Wednesday.
The layoffs are part of an aggressive $200 million budget cut to help finance the pension payment, which is required of Chicago Public Schools by Illinois law. The rest of the pension payment is coming from heavy borrowing, as the district already has a massive $1.1 billion budget deficit.
In announcing the layoffs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the rest of the state for not picking up the slack, saying the rest of Illinois doesn’t pay its fair share for pensions. …
… Chicago’s public schools have seen repeated mass layoffs in recent years thanks to a budget situation that is in perpetual crisis. In 2014, about 1,100 employees were laid off, and over 3,000 lost their jobs in 2013. …
… Angry educators, though, might consider pointing a finger at the pension benefits received by their retired colleagues. Thousands of retired Illinois teachers receive a six-figure pension, and the typical teacher received more in pension payments than they personally paid in within 20 months of retirement. Most teachers retire at age 59 or younger, and the lifetime pension cost per teacher in the state is estimated to exceed $2 million. Not helping things for the state is an annual 3 percent cost of living adjustment that is fully guaranteed and totally untethered from actual inflation rates.