TRS Director Richard Ingram. There he goes again.

TRS Director Richard Ingram.

Earlier this year Richard Ingram created a problem by going rogue and calling for a “new reality” when it comes to pension reform. His new reality entailed benefit cuts rather than funding reform.

At the time, the TRS board remained silent. Sitting on the TRS board is IEA President Cinda Klickna.

Now Ingram is back. While TRS is not supposed to get into legislative proposals, Ingram told Crain’s that TRS COLAs had to be cut.

Again, there has been nothing in response from the TRS board or Klickna.

In an interview with Crain’s editors and reporters, Richard Ingram, executive director of the underfunded Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, said state politicians will have few other options if they want to make meaningful progress on closing the gap between promised pension benefits and the available funding.

“Look at every other state that’s done pension reform – what have they done? They’ve changed the COLA because that’s where the cost is,” Mr. Ingram said, noting that 25 percent of TRS payments are for cost-of-living increases on pension benefits.

In reality, the biggest financial burden related to TRS is the payment on the debt that the state owes.

4 Replies to “TRS Director Richard Ingram. There he goes again.”

  1. This guy should be gone. Why is this position while screwing us? We expect people to respect our point of view and take it seriously while we let this numb nut say these things and we DO NOTHING? At the Lemont meeting he was quoted as an “in your face” by the hack group that sponsored it. His statements here will be another bullet used to kill us.

  2. Mr. Ingram claims that funding TRS is not his job. He is just an administrator. (This is the jist of his letter in a recent pension news issue.) Well then, why is he making suggestions to the public and legislators about cutting benefits? And one would think his administrative duties would include overseeing that the funding was taking place. Where was he on that job during years of underfunding by the state of Illinois?

  3. As stated by Ingram, “the number is so bad [regarding the COLA]… that you have to start having those conversations… that if you look at the pension math, the single biggest cost is the COLA,” in other words, “…the math is not trueing up with what is constitutional or fair or earned or whatever else.”

    Well, since Ingram has changed his once stated “neutral” position since last fall, how about asking Ingram to include conversations concerning tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and the wealthy? How much revenue would be created singlehandedly with their elimination?

    And how about having conversations regarding the creation of a graduated-rate structure that will “cut the overall state income tax burden for 94 percent of all taxpayers” (the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability), or how about conversations regarding the elimination of the tax loophole for “Tax Increment Financing Districts?” According to Greg Leroy, the executive director at a national policy resource center that promotes corporate and government accountability in Washington, DC, that eradication will “save $1.2 billion a year.” Yes, according to Ingram, let the suggestions and solutions for the TRS board be “new, bold and honest.”

    Well here are two more suggestions and two more questions, Dick: let’s put an end to scapegoating teachers and other public employees once and for all. Public employees are not responsible for the state’s deficits. Furthermore, let’s put an end to distracting the general populace from the real problems that the State of Illinois confronts: an inadequate revenue structure and an exorbitant pension debt (caused by the Illinois General Assemblies since 1953). How about defending the legal and moral promises (Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution) made to public employees in 1970 (and still relevant and pertinent today)? How about focusing on raising revenue and paying debts without compromising the future of the state’s teachers (and their students) as well as other state workers?

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