(WJBC archive photo)
By Beth Whisman
NORMAL - Illinois State University President Al Bowman said Wednesday, he's still hopeful lawmakers will solve the state's public pension crisis without violating constitutional protections.
He said none of the ideas bouncing around Springfield are perfect. For instance, he said the retirement age of 67 seems a little high. But, Bowman said both sides of the debate admit the existing Tier 2 program for retirees can't sustain. Critics say the plan has teachers paying more into the system to pay off the state's old pension debt without the guarantee of proper coverage for their own retirement.
Bowman predicted his successor can look forward to more consistent state budgets down the road, if the General Assembly does a good job this spring.
"Once we, as a state, resolve some of these really tough challenges like pensions and Medicaid, then we can get back to a normal budget cycle that will allow us to appropriately fund services like high education and K-12," Bowman told WJBC's Jim Fitzpatrick. "But until those things are solved, we're going to continue to look at cuts."
Bowman will retire later this year. The ISU Board of Trustees plans to name his replacement by the fall. Meanwhile, lawmakers are working on an April deadline for a pension compromise.
Beth Whisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.