GOP Rep. Ugaste speaks plainly about Pritzker's pension proposal: 'I think it's totally wrong'
Republican state Rep. Dan Ugaste’s reasons for opposing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to steer more money into the Chicago teachers' pension system while subtracting from others across the state are as pragmatic as they are philosophical.
“I don’t think the rest of state should have to worry about struggling to pay into their own pension systems while the city is using the money of others to shore up someone else’s pension,” Ugaste, of nearby Geneva, told Kane County Reporter. “I could certainly see how people would be turned off by the mere thought of that.”
Nonetheless, the new governor seems poised to move forward with a plan that would redirect at least $500 million to Chicago's pension system while delaying payments to other teacher retirement accounts across the state. The plan hardly reflects the position Pritzker took as a candidate, when he preached about his commitment to paying more into teachers' pensions throughout the state.
Currently, the state is saddled with more than $135 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, with actuarial contributions for the next fiscal year set to account for as much as 25 percent of the entire state budget.
“I can’t tell you what the governor is thinking in putting a plan like this forward,” said Ugaste, who won his seat in the 65th District in November with 52 percent of the vote. “All I know is that I think it’s totally wrong and I’m completely against it.”
Ugaste isn’t alone in his assessment. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) has also publicly panned the plan.
“Delaying pension payments just kicks the can down the road again and costs future generations of Illinois taxpayers – if any are left – billions of dollars,” IRTA President Roger Hampton said in a statement.
The 65th House District includes Batavia, Burlington, Dundee, Elgin, Geneva, Grafton, Hampshire, Plato, Rutland and St. Charles.