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SURS ruling negates pension-reform typo


The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) approved an Emergency Administrative Rule using June 30, 2014, as the deemed retirement date for calculating the Minimum Money Purchase Annuity (MMPA), a provision contained in the 2013 pension reform law. 

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SURS offers resources to answer pension questions


The end of the fiscal year is raising many questions for employees at or near retirement age. Changes made by legislators last year to the State University Retirement System could have dramatic – and expensive impacts for some of those employees.

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Eligible to retire before July? Better check your SURS benefits!


NIU employees eligible for retirement this fiscal year should review their retirement benefits to analyze the impact of recent pension reform changes.

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SURS updates members on pension reform


Major plan amendments (effective either June 1 or July 1) that will affect currently employed Tier I personnel include: Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), Effective Rate of Interest (ERI), Money Purchase Actuarial Changes, and the Effect on the Pension Calculation Maximum Pensionable Earnings Cap Retirement Age Eligibility. A SURS retirement counselor will speak in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 24, on pension reform.

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HRS offering help with retirement forms


Individuals planning to retire, who want assistance completing their SURS application forms, can attend one of nearly two-dozen retirement application processing sessions offered by Human Resource Services between April 26 and May 30.

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SURS retirement specialist to visit in April


A retirement specialist from the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) will be on campus Wednesday, April 23, and Thursday, April 24, to meet with individual employees to discuss retirement estimates. Sessions will take place in rooms 303 and 304 of the Holmes Student Center.

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Pension legislation passes both houses


The Illinois General Assembly approved a pension reform plan today in hopes of eliminating the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall.

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General Assembly to consider pension proposal Dec. 3


Illinois legislative leaders reached a deal to help solve the state’s $100 billion pension problem and offered details Friday afternoon.

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State leaders announce pension reform deal


Illinois legislative leaders announced they’ve reached a deal to help solve the state’s $100 billion pension problem but offered no details following a Wednesday meeting. The Illinois House and Senate will consider the measure in a special session on Dec. 3.

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Illinois legislators reach pension deal
(Associated Press)

Four legislative leaders strike deal on pension reform
(Chicago Sun-Times)

NIU VP talks pensions with legislator, media


Illinois’ “worst in the nation” public pension system has been the key policy issue in the state for several years. Now, the cries for reform are louder than ever as the deficit continues to snowball.

WNIJ’s Susan Stephens and Rockford Register Star Political Editor Chuck Sweeny recently sat down with State Senator Dave Syverson and Northern Illinois University Vice President Steve Cunningham–who is among the architects of the six step pension reform proposal that served as a starting point for current negotiations–to discuss key issues and hurdles for pension reform.

Listen to the full discussion on Northern Public Radio.

Pension committee hears higher ed testimony


Higher education leaders from across the state, including Northern Illinois University acting executive vice president of business and finance Steven Cunningham, testified before a 10-member bipartisan legislative conference committee during a 9 a.m. July 3 meeting at the Michael Bilandic Building in Chicago. The group advocated for the Institute for Government and Public Affairs’ (IGPA) six step plan for reforming the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) outlined in its March 2013 “Six Simple Steps: Reforming the Illinois State Universities Retirement System” report. 

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NIU administrators testify to merits of Six Step Plan


Northern Illinois University president John G. Peters and acting executive vice president and chief of operations Steven Cunningham lined up with other higher education leaders in the state to testify before the Senate Executive Committee as to the viability of legislation aimed to stabilize the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). Their combined testimony was well-received.

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University presidents offer SURS pension stabilization compromise


Northern Illinois University President John Peters and senior administrators have been actively involved in building consensus on a pension stabilization solution for the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) that enjoys the unanimous support of presidents and chancellors of all Illinois public universities.

The plan – a combination of Senate Bill 1687 and Senate Bill 2591 – is expected to be discussed Tuesday by a Senate panel in Springfield.

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State lawmakers adjourn Friday without acting to resolve pension funding crisis across Illinois

June 1, 2013

The Illinois General Assembly adjourned Friday evening without taking action to resolve Illinois’ pension funding crisis. Illinois public university presidents and chancellors worked diligently this spring to craft a viable solution to the SURS funding problems.

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Springfield legislative session enters final week with several major issues in need of resolution

May 24, 2013

Just one more week remains in the current legislative session before the Illinois General Assembly adjourns Friday, May 31. At this point, major issues remain unresolved, which is not uncommon given the natural rhythm of the legislative process in Springfield.

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Peters updates campus on pension reform

May 10, 2013

I am writing to you today to update you with some very important information relative to the very fluid pension debate in the General Assembly in Springfield.

Thursday afternoon, the Illinois Senate approved an amended version of Senate Bill 2404, a union-backed proposal sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton that offers Tier I employees a choice of whether to accept a choice in cost-of-living adjustments, pensionable future raises and/or state-sponsored health insurance.

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Illinois House passes historic pension reform bill

May 2, 2013

The Illinois House has approved a comprehensive pension-reform measure sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan by a vote of 62-51 Thursday afternoon.

Senate Bill 1 is designed to close a $97 billion deficit that hangs over the state's pension plans. Underfunding for decades has left the pension systems short of what they need.

The bill would require employees to contribute an additional two percent of their earnings to their pensions, delay retirement, and accept smaller cost of living increases. The state would also promise to make its required contribution each year.

Madigan pension reform package clears first hurdle

Full House vote expected today

May 2, 2013

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee passed a pension reform plan put forth by Speaker Michael Madigan by a 9-1 vote, clearing the way for the pension reform bill to be called before the full House Thursday.

Madigan's plan calls for employees to pay 2 percent more of salary toward their retirement plans. Workers would only be able to collect pension on a salary up to $110,000, which would increase by 0.5 percent of the inflation rate per year.

"It will bring solvency and stability to the four systems," Madigan said of his amendment, which would affect the State Universities Retirement System and three others but leave out the Judges’ Retirement System of Illinois to avoid a conflict should the reforms face legal challenges.

"I commend the nine members of the House Committee who today voted to address the biggest challenge facing our state,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn through a statement released Wednesday. "Illinois' economy will not fully recover until the General Assembly passes this comprehensive pension reform and sends the bill to my desk.”

Speaker Madigan files pension reform package

May 1, 2013

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan filed an amendment to a comprehensive pension-reform package passed by the Senate last month that caps the salary on which a pension can be based and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

The House Personnel & Pensions Committee is scheduled to consider the legislation at an 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 meeting.

The 277-page proposed amendment tweaks ideas proposed by Rep. Elaine Nekritz and House Republican Leader Tom Cross and would cap the total annual salary on which a pension could be based at $109,971, which is less than the $113,000 Social Security guideline originally proposed.

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Madigan Fact Sheet (PDF)

SURS Analysis (PDF)

Public university leaders endorse pension plan

April 9, 2013

The presidents and chancellors of the 14 public universities in Illinois have unanimously endorsed a six-point proposal for addressing the state’s pension funding crisis as it relates to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and in a letter to the governor and legislative leaders they called it “a thoughtful and responsible approach.”

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IGPA proposes six-step SURS pension reform plan

March 14, 2013

As Illinois’ public-employee pension liability soars toward $100 billion, a group of scholars that includes Northern Illinois University’s acting executive vice president Steven Cunningham, has developed a six-step proposal to stabilize pensions for employees of the state’s public colleges and universities.

More in NIU Today >
View IGPA Proposal >

Quinn targets pension reform in budget address

March 6, 2013

Education will sustain a painful hit in a new State of Illinois spending plan unveiled today during Gov. Pat Quinn’s annual budget address. 

Calling it the “most difficult budget ever,” the governor said the state must solve its public-employee pension crisis, which will drain nearly $7 billion of the Illinois general revenue in the coming year.

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FY2014 Budget >

Cross, Nekritz file new pension reform proposal

February 27, 2013

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R‐Oswego) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) introduced pension reform legislation Feb. 27, which would save taxpayers $30 billion and the pension system for government workers, according to a press release.

Read more at NIU Today >
HB 3411 Fact Sheet >

Gov. Quinn: Illinois stands at critical juncture

February 7, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his State of the State Message today to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Governors typically use the State of the State to highlight their priorities and to call on the General Assembly to act on these priorities.

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Pension Update: House committee endorses new pension plan

January 8, 2013

A committee of lawmakers in Springfield endorsed a proposal Monday that would enact sweeping changes to the state’s employee pension system. Under the plan endorsed by the House Personnel and Pensions Committee (on a 6-3 vote) the changes would include:

  • A six-year suspension of the annual 3 percent cost of living increase currently given to retirees. 
  • After the six-year period, increases would only apply to the first $25,000 of a retiree’s pension, and those increases would not kick in until a retiree turns 67 years of age. 
  • Employees also would have to chip in an additional 2 percent of their salary toward their retirements. The increase would be phased in over two years. 
  • The state would be legally compelled to pay its full share of its annual pension payment every year

Read more at NIU Today > 

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