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Local Illinois Teachers Speak Out Against New Pension Plan

24 hours after Illinois lawmakers approved a new pension plan, the people it impacts the most are speaking out.

On Wednesday, December 4th, 2013, News 8 visited George O. Barr Elementary School in Silvis, Illinois to see what teachers think of the new plan.

Most say they’re frustrated and disappointed.

“No matter what goes on at a higher level, we take the hit for it,” 1st Grade Teacher Stephanie Ruhberg said.

Under the new plan, the state is expected to save more than $160 billion by cutting retirement benefits for current state workers. However, to Stephanie, it’s one more cut too many.

“We’re a small district, so we’re already scraping by with what we can.”

That $160 billion will also come from pushing back the retirement age for workers ages 45 and younger. Stephanie, who is 28, and Mary Rossmiller, who is 43, will both be affected.

I would have retired between 60 and 65,” Rossmiller, a 4th Grade Teacher, said. “However, now it’s going to be closer to 70.”

Supporters of the new pension plan say it will help fill Illinois’ $100 billion pension shortfall, but Rossmiller says it will do the opposite for teachers.

“It is hurting not only our new teachers who put less in and are going to have to work longer years, but those of us who have been here who were putting in more and when we go to retirement there’s going to be less.”

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn called the approval of the new plan a “win for the people of Illinois” and says he plans to sign it into law “promptly.”

However, Rossmiller and Ruhberg have a different word for it.

“It is not a win for the people who pay into the state retirement system,” Rossmiller said. “It is a betrayal is what it is.

“It’s a mess is what it is,” Ruhberg said. “It doesn’t bode well with getting people that want to come to Illinois and teach. We’re already having to cut back on teachers. We’re already having to make class sizes bigger. There’s no draw for our state.”

That’s making her think twice about her future and whether she’ll stay in Illinois for her teaching career.

“I’ve thought about it,” she said. “I live in Iowa so it would be easy for me to go teach in Iowa, but I love the school I work at. It’s just so frustrating.”

Both Ruhberg and Rossmiller are hoping their stories in Silvis will reach lawmakers in Springfield.

“I wish that lawmakers would see how much they are hurting the middle class economy in Illinois,” Rossmiller said.

Meantime, other opponents – mainly labor unions – have vowed to fight the measure in court.

5 comments

  • CityDiva

    Note to Ms. Ruhberg: You are an Iowa resident. If you don’t like what happens here in Illinois – go find a teaching job in Iowa. Or…become an Illinois resident if you want to continue teaching here. Illinois tax payers would be surprised on how many residents of Iowa take advantage of programs here in Illinois. I live in a subsidized apartment complex. The cars with Iowa license plates equal those with Illinois license plates.

    • Neal

      I DO NOT want my taxes wasted on YOUR subsidized apartment complex!!!! Live where you can afford!!!!!!! Better yet move to another state and sponge off them!!!!!!!

  • navymom

    Promises made, promises broken but let’s not forget that teachers retirement, unless I’ve been misinformed, is not affected by the market like mine is. They are guaranteed their retirement and I do believe health insurance. There’s more to the story than what was shown on tv.

  • John Rutledge

    No plan that truly solves the pension issue will be acceptable to the employee/teacher’s unions that have enjoyed very generous benefits over the years. The state can simply no longer afford this level of expenditure. Deeper cuts have yet to be made.

  • Barb

    How sad! My mom is a retired teacher from Illinois, and what they have done is a disgrace. My mom does not have a choice on what Dr. she goes to, she does not get Medicare as she is a State Employee, she very high monthly premiums for her insurance. Then to top it off she prays each month that she will actually get her retirement check, that she put money into while she was teaching! Teachers are a gift and they are underpaid and under appreciated. I am sure the Lawmakers in Illinois have not had their insurance premiums raised, nor there pension checks cut in half. It is a shame what is happening in that state. You should all stand up and cheer for the wonderful teachers that taught you, your children and grandchildren!

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