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Illinois to hire first 'state actuary' to review retirement systems

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey.

Illinois' pensions systems should get more scrutiny under legislation Governor Pat Quinn signed this afternoon. Illinois will be hiring its first "state actuary."

Until now, Illinois' five state pensions systems have issued their own reports on their financial health.

In the future, an independent "state actuary" will look at the retirement funds for state and university workers, legislators, judges, and public school teachers in the suburbs and downstate.

It's a far cry from the comprehensive pension changes Governor Quinn has been pushing for, which would cut state employees' retirement benefits.

"I just want to reiterate that this has to be the year of pension reform, once and for all, in our state of Illinois," Quinn said. "It's long in coming -- frankly, long overdue."

Top Democrats and Republicans agree on reducing pension benefits for employees, but are divided over who should pay for university workers' and public school teachers' pensions.

Quinn and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to shift the funding burden away from the state and onto universities and local school districts. Republicans say that cost-shift would lead to tuition hikes and property tax increases.

Follow Brian Mackey on Twitter: @brianmackey