To the Editor:
As discussion of the underfunding of Illinois’ public pension systems continues, it is important to remember that members of the Teachers’ Retirement System, in addition to the required contributions made to an earned pension, made the required contributions to an earned COLA as well.
As noted in 40 ILCS 5/16-152 effective July 1, 1969, a contribution of half of 1 percent of salary toward the cost of the annual cost-of-living adjustment has been made by all members. To characterize the COLA as anything other than an earned benefit for which members paid and for which the state of Illinois failed to perform its fiduciary responsibility is incorrect and dishonest.
Recent proposals to create a coerced choice for retirees between the COLA and continued access to health insurance reaches a new low for legislators apparently unburdened by the democratic values embedded in what I thought was a binding social contract that TRS members, as contributing partners to that contract, had fulfilled.
Donald R. Englert