Once again, TRS Executive Director Richard Ingram says we need sacrifice. What he doesn’t say? Teachers already have.

Teacher Retirement System’s Richard Ingram pens a commentary in the Trib calling on sacrifice to make TRS solvent.

Sacrifice by whom?

He only hints at what he thinks is the answer.

But by refusing to say, one must assume he is doing what all politicians do when they call for sacrifice.

Sometimes they say “shared sacrifice.”

But what they mostly mean is we should sacrifice. Even though we already have. The money that the state owes to teachers for over fifty years of failing to meet state pension obligations is money lost to us. Sacrificed. Illegally stolen.

Richard Ingram won’t say that.

Because it is true.

By Dick IngramDecember 9, 2012

Last October, during one of the many public meetings I have spoken at on behalf of Teachers’ Retirement System throughout Illinois, I was confronted by an angry teacher.

During the meeting, I had described in blunt terms the serious financial challenges facing TRS and the difficult time state officials were having in finding a solution that would secure the system’s future for all educators; those who are retired and those still teaching.

This man was angry. He deserved to be. He felt cheated by a system that had promised him security when he retired. And quite frankly he has been cheated.

I found myself face to face with him after the meeting. By this time his anger had ebbed, and he was reflective. “This isn’t really about me, is it?” he said. “It’s about my daughter.”

It turned out his daughter is in college and wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and teach in Illinois. But right now TRS cannot promise her a pension in 30 or 40 years when she finishes her career.

“Can we fix it?” he asked. Yes, I explained, we can. But any solution will be painful and involve sacrifice. He thought a moment more and posed a question I have not been able to get out of my head — a question we all have to answer.

“Why wouldn’t we do that?”

Over the past 20 months, I have written to and spoken to thousands of Illinoisans about the problems TRS faces in keeping the pension promises made to our members.

Describing the potential insolvency of TRS, and not being able to keep our members’ retirement promises, has generated many difficult — and even angry — conversations. The truth is often hard to accept. But everyone in Illinois deserves to hear the truth, however inconvenient. The challenges TRS faces are steep. But they are not beyond solution.

Say what you will about Gov. Pat Quinn’s latest effort to spark the proper attitude toward pension reform. Beyond his Squeezy the Pension Python video campaign, there is an important kernel of truth in the central message.

All of these difficult conversations about pensions are far more about securing the future than balancing the present or understanding the past.

For the past eight months, TRS has emphasized that state leaders must act now to prevent insolvency in the future. TRS has the same fiduciary obligation to the 25-year-old teacher as to the 85-year-old retiree. Fixing the problem for the young teacher fixes it for everyone.

Why wouldn’t we do that?

Those five words capture the attitude we need to solve the pension problem in Illinois. We are at our best when we think of the future instead of the present, especially when the present is challenging and difficult. When we sacrifice for the next generation, we do great things for today. Who among us would not strive, in lean times and good times, to make the future better for our children and grandchildren?

That is how we have to approach the pension challenge in Illinois. That is how we must think about the choices before us to put TRS and the other Illinois public pension systems on sound footing. It is not about us, it is about those who come after us. They might not even know or appreciate the sacrifice made for them, but what does that matter?

Right now we have the opportunity to fix an old problem that has lingered in Illinois for decades — if we focus on the future.

Why wouldn’t we do that?

Dick Ingram is executive director of Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois.


12 thoughts on “Once again, TRS Executive Director Richard Ingram says we need sacrifice. What he doesn’t say? Teachers already have.

  1. I can tell you the answer. Because after 31 years of teaching, 14 years in a prison, I think I am entitled to what I was promised. No more; no less. The arguement “Lets do it for our kids and grandkids” is a warn out response by individuals who already have theirs, but don’t want the rest of us to have ours. I have an idea! You give back yours, then you can spend the rest of your life eating cat food, but you will feel real good about your sacrifice. Tell me folks, is this clown really in charge of my money? I will take mine now, before he sacrifices me into being a homeless person. The sacrifices have all been completed. They sacrificed our money to buy votes. Now they want to blame us. By the way I didn’t see the robbers in the GA sacrifice their raise last spring. We are not all in this together, some of us can be the victims of these predetors if we don’t stand up and fight now. See you in Springfield January 3rd and 4th. I have a message as to what they can do with their sacrifices. PS Happy Christmas!

  2. I cannot even begin to express the level at which Dick’s “story” and message angers me. And I’ll tell you why. Unlike the story of the angry teacher whose daughter’s potential decision to become a teacher will be impacted by what happens to TRS, there are teachers whose children that will not have the same promising future due to reasons beyond their, or their child’s, own control. What about the teacher with the daughter who has significant special needs, whose every financial decision about the care and well-being of that child has been based on a the financial promise of a certain level benefit as the end of their career? Can that parent go back five, ten, fifteen or even twenty years and re-configure the amount needed from their own financial means for the care and future of that child after the parent may no longer be able to care for the child in their later years?

    To base some moronic phrase like “who wouldn’t do that?” and give credence to stupid cartoon-like character designed to bring humor to a situation the will seriously impact the lives of every-day hard working people shows clearly how Dick has no idea of the scope of his responsibility of his leadership, or how his every word effects the lives of TRS members who are counting on him and the TRS boars to be the fire-wall in advocating for what is morally right. For God’s sake, how can one live with themselves knowing that if they go down, they do on the right side, defending the people who matter, or are supposed to matter?!?!

    Dick Ingram is nothing more that an accomplice in the crime of the century. The so-called painful sacrifice that Ingram should be speaking about is his own which he is too much of a coward to face up to. The Governor, Madigan, state legislators will al be guilty of stealing our money. Dick Ingram, Cinda Klickna, the TRS board (by not acting swiftly with regard to Ingram’s behavior) – are they all to foolish to see how that are being sucked in by these forces?

    The leadership of the TRS, and this includes the TRS board as will as Ingram, should be standing up for ALL of the TRS members who will be impacted by pension-gutting legislation, including those whose “futures” may go no further than the literal physical care and well being of the children after they are gone.

    Who wouldn’t do that?

    Dick Ingram, that’s who.

  3. Dick Ingram needs to be sacrificed.
    FIRE HIM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Please put him on the same bus that I will ride to Springfield. I guarantee that he will voluntarily quit since the TRS Twinkies refuse to fire him.

  4. Dick Ingram needs to take his ‘sacrifice’ speech to the fat cats at the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club.
    He has no business penning op-eds like this.

  5. We worked , we paid into our retirement, the politicians took our money and used it to buy votes and coddle corporations. Now we have to suffer for following the rules BULLSHIT!!! We are not sheep there will be HELL to pay for this!

  6. Dear Dick Ingram:

    It is easy to construct victims with a dubious call for “Shared Sacrifice.” Of course, by “Shared Sacrifice,” directors like you, executives of corporations, and many legislators mean only public employees. RoseAnn DeMoro, the leader of National Nurses United, says the wealthy have “created an economy on to themselves without people.” To victimize teachers and other state employees again for the state’s budget deficits is reprehensible. Don’t you agree?

    We are told that to fix the pension system teachers must pay for the system’s liabilities; that teachers have to compromise through “consideration” and make a sacrifice. The sacrifice you call for entails changing public employees’ constitutionally-guaranteed pensions with the passage of a law that mitigates “earned” benefits and deprives guaranteed rights.
    How is it a “Shared Sacrifice” when a governor can roll back the billionaire’s and millionaire’s taxes and then lacerate a State’s school budget while attempting to diminish a public employee’s pension? Is that your definition of “sacrifice?”

    Should we call our mortgage loan officer tomorrow and ask him or her to help us pay down our mortgage “going forward” (and call it “shared sacrifice”)? Should we ask him or her to cap his or her salary and work longer hours and more years before collecting retirement? Should we ask him or her to reduce his or her compounded COLA and to increase his or her property taxes so we can renege on our debts like the State of Illinois?

    Should we ask the General Assembly and members of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and members of the Civic Federation and others to eliminate their compounded COLA; extend their retirement age before they can collect “all” of their full “pensions”; cap their exorbitant (lawyer and corporate) salaries; eliminate their bonuses and pay the unfunded liability out of their bank accounts and their earned, deferred incomes? Should we also ask the federal government to enact the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset Provision for all of these people beginning July 1st?

    You say, “It is not about us, it is about those who come after us. They might not even know or appreciate the sacrifice made for them, but what does that matter?” –Dick Ingram

    Sure, “what does it matter?” We’re just indentured servants, Mr. Ingram, and you and others don’t have to sacrifice your earned, deferred benefits and constitutional rights.

    “We are at our best when we think of the future instead of the present, especially when the present is challenging and difficult. When we sacrifice for the next generation, we do great things for today.”

    Quite a pronouncement from someone who has never taught! As a part of the past generation that has now arrived in this “challenging and difficult present” that was caused by legislative incompetence and fraudulence, I thought about the “future” a lot throughout my teaching career: the “future” of my students, my colleagues, my family, and public education during the 35 years I spent as a public school teacher. It was never about me or us, and it still isn’t today.

    You asked, “Why wouldn’t we do that?” Do you mean “sacrifice” again and again? Teachers and other public employees know what sacrifice is. We have lived it. It’s obvious that you, many members of the General Assembly, and members of the Civic Committee do not know the meaning of the word.

  7. Please help me to understand exactly who is in the top position of power for TRS. While Ingram is the exec director, I don’t see that he is on the board of trustees. I am confused as to why the board allows comments like the last one made by Ingram without instant response. I expect the board to be MY advocate – am I missing something?

  8. What a cowardly course of action, Mr. Ingram. When you and the legislators give up your pensions for the good of the children of tomorrow, we teachers will accept this heinous swindle. You should all be ashamed to lift your heads. May I remind you that WE PAID FOR THESE PENSIONS WITH OUR LIVES AND OUR SALARIES…unlike LEGISLATORS who do not even GO To work, filibuster, and bullshit in an attempt to thwart any action, spend all funding that was promised to education on themselves and their contributors ….Why should WE sacrifice when NONE of YOU have…You have free benefits for all of your family, along with several pensions!!! Hello? Are you listening? You should all go to jail for FRAUD and for VIOLATING the US CONSTITUTION….Teach THAT to the CHILDREN of the FUTURE! Aren’t 2 Governors in prison ENOUGH to show you that this sort of slight of hand will backfire on all of you in the end????

  9. Damn right it matters! I will not be sacrificed for the malfeasance of others. I will not lower my expectations of a secure retirement while the criminals who created this mess walk away scot free! Madigan, Cross, Quinn and Nekritz will all walk away with millions in pension benifits. I will not. Where is the shared part of that sacrifice?

    And in closing, Ingram needs to go.

    1. Retired public school /corrections educator,
      This is at least the third time Ingram has threatened my TRS benefits. I have called TRS trustees and the IRTA regarding Ingram’s comments. Richard Ingram must be fired. He has absolutely no business in charge of the Illinois Teacher Retirement System! How dare you threaten to unconstitutionally diminish mine and my wife’s ( a teacher) hard earned benefits. I absolutely will not accept this without a fight! See you in Springfield on Jan. 3,4. Oh yes, did I mention, Fire Richard Ingram now not later!

  10. As Dr. King so aptly put it, Mr. Ingram, “It is wrong to brutalize ANY of God’s children, no matter from which side the brutalization comes.” I’m sure he’s turning over in his grave. 34 Year Retired High School Teacher

  11. Dick Ingram? Absent? Missing In Action? What happened to him? Where is he and what did he do? Hopefully: Dick Ingram left his $283,000.00 salary for school supplies that teachers buy out of their own pockets… for a start. Why ship someone in from another state who has not skin the game… Tier 2 he complained about when he came to Illinois and was put in charge of the TRS pension system…

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