CORRECTED: Ahead of pension bailout fight, Illinois public employee unions back Acklin for GOP nomination
Illinois' largest public employee unions are backing Jim Acklin in the Republican primary for state representative in the 102nd District.
The Illinois Education Association (IEA), the state's largest public employee union, gave Acklin $50,000 on Feb. 22-23, according to the State Board of Elections.
The state firefighter's union gave him $15,000. Members of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS), which represents state university employees, gave him $2,000.
All three of the unions face giant pension fund deficits, brought on by skyrocketing public employee salaries and low public employee savings rates over the past decade. They are lobbying the state to bail out their retirement funds, either by raising state income taxes or cutting other services.
The Illinois Teachers Retirement System, which serves IEA members, faced a deficit of $57.92 billion as of June 2014, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI). That deficit more than doubled over the past decade; it was $21.99 billion in 2005.
SURS faced a deficit of $20.04 billion as of June 2014, according to DOI. It jumped from $6.99 billion in June 2005.
Illinois firefighter pension funds are local, not statewide. But they face similar circumstances and are already being bailed out by property taxpayers.
DOI reports the Paris Firefighters Pension Fund was underfunded by $4.844 million in April 2014. That’s up from $1.35 million in April 2005.
The fund spent $492,256 on active pensioners, but only earned $418,452 on its investments. Paris property taxpayers covered the deficit, paying $341,743 in 2014.
Active Paris firefighters contributed just $61,637 to the fund.
In Shelbyville, the Firefighters Pension Fund faced a $1.096 million deficit as of June 2014, up from $13,442 in June 2005. Pension expenses were $81,560, more than investment income of $27,453. Shelbyville property taxpayers funded the difference, paying $61,443.
Active Shelbyville firefighters paid just $14,216 into their pension fund.
In Sullivan, the Firefighters Pension Fund faced a $2.385 million deficit as of June 2014, up from $380,455 in June 2005. Sullivan property taxpayers contributed $147,925 to the fund, versus $52,410 by active Sullivan firefighters.
The 102nd District includes the communities of St. Joseph, Ogden, Paris, Shelbyville, Tuscola and Sullivan.
Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that SURS donated to Acklin's campaign when it was actually members of the SURS union.