May 15, 2012

SURSMAC Calls for Pension Protection

THE STATE UNIVERSITIES Retirement System Members Advisory Committee (SURSMAC) on May 8 passed a resolution calling for protection of SURS pensions.

THE RESOLUTION’S highlights include a call that “all promised benefits to current participants and annuitants should be maintained,” and that “existing unfunded liabilities must remain the State’s responsibility.”

SURSMAC INCLUDES representatives of all institutions covered by SURS, as well as two retiree representatives. The 19-member panel advises the Board of Trustees of SURS.

FOR THE full resolution, see below:

SURSMAC Resolution on Pensions
Adopted May 8, 2012

Whereas, Previous underfunding of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) has made SURS unable to continue to pay out benefits indefinitely at current levels even though participants have fully contributed their portion of the required amounts; and

Whereas, Given Illinois ranks last among the 50 states in adequately funding its public pensions, this situation cannot be allowed to continue since retaining and recruiting top faculty and staff will be increasingly difficult unless the issue is addressed;

Whereas, All stakeholders---participants, colleges and universities, and the state of Illinois—have a necessary role in any reform to bring the SURS to a sound financial state; and

Whereas, Reforms must be guided by agreed upon principles, the most important of which is fairness to participants and annuitants who entered into the system on the basis of certain understandings and commitments that need to be honored;

Resolved, That any changes to SURS must be financially sustainable for the State, the institutions, and the participants and must respect existing constitutional protections of already-accrued benefits;

 Resolved, That all promised benefits to current participants and annuitants should be maintained, as guaranteed by the State Constitution (Article 8, Section 5 General Provisions);

Resolved, That existing unfunded liabilities must remain the State’s responsibility with credible guarantees that future payments will be made on time;

Resolved, That the State should continue to make its contributions to SURS at a level at least equal to that it would be paying to Social Security (6.2% of pay) along with its contributions to health care;

Resolved, That any transfer of normal costs to institutions must be nominal and phased in gradually;

Resolved, That any reform must include improvements to the current Tier II program for new employees and this revised program should be an option for Tier I employees; and

Resolved, That any changes in participant contributions must involve consultations with those affected.

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