By: Mark Glennon*

Illinoisans outside Chicago may be laughing at the city’s reckless new contract with its teachers, but the real joke is on them.

Why didn’t Chicago Public Schools include higher pension costs resulting from payroll increases in its report on the cost of the new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union? Did they even measure it? If so, there’s no sign they did.

And why did CPS, under the new contract, let teachers accumulate 244 sick days they can put toward an earlier retirement with a full pension?

The Chicago Teachers Union.

The answer is simple. Thanks to the new school funding formula passed in 2017, state taxpayers are now shouldering all “normal costs” for CPS pensions. Normal costs are the actual costs accrued each year for pension benefits incurred in that year, which will include the expanded pension costs. The pension impact of the new CTU contract is foisted on the state.

In other words, Chicago might as well have said “Damned if we care what it costs. We’re not the ones paying.”

Yes, Chicagoans are state taxpayers too, but they represent just one-fifth of the state’s population, so the city has effectively passed the buck on most of the increased pension costs under the new contract.

What will this cost? We don’t know because, as mentioned, nobody seems to have bothered to do an estimate. Whatever it is will be in addition to the estimated $1.5 billion direct cost to the city over the term of the new five-year contract.

Private sector companies typically let workers accrue no more than ten sick days. Teachers have no more than 170 work days per year. With 244 sick days accruable for pension credit, CPS will now let teachers retire a year and a half early and credit that time towards their pensions. Mayor Lori Lightfoot apparently gave the concession away early. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, CPS documents tracking negotiations show that as early as Oct. 25, the city was open to raising the number of sick days that could be banked to 244. That’s up from 40 days in prior years.

This is another chapter of the perverted effects of letting school districts pass off pension costs to the state. Outside Chicago, the Teachers Retirement System similarly lets school districts give away an obscene number of sick days creditable to pensions — up to two years’ worth. That’s a bad precedent that should have been fixed, not replicated in Chicago.

It’s the same story with spiking. Why wouldn’t school districts spike their teachers’ pensions if somebody else bears the cost? Last year, thanks to union backing, the state cancelled previous reforms that had discouraged teacher spiking.

Illinois is being looted. There’s no end in sight.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.


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Poor Taxpayer

The best day of your life is the day you move out of Illinois. A U-Haul will solve the problem. Call a mover today and start a better life for you and your family. Illinois is DOA, no hope. Even the cops, firemen and teachers with the HUGE PENSIONS are running out of Illinois.
Last man standing will be a dead man. 83 Degrees and Sunny in South Florida, NO state income taxes. Freeze you a$$ of in poverty or start a great new life.


They should pay for them selfs like we did bunch of crooks up in Chicago


Let’s not forget that prior to the change Chicago paid for all CPS pension costs
without any funds from the rest of the state. In addition to paying for all CPS pension cost all City taxpayers state income tax payments helped fund the rest of the state public school teachers pension costs. I think if we follow your logic of 20% of state is Chicago that would mean Chicago had been funding 20% of State teacher pension costs for years prior to the change.

Charlotte Aines

Let’s not forget that the state of Illinois funds around 60% of Chicago public schools operating budget each year. Do you know how much money the state of illinois distributes to many of the suburban schools in Chicago? The answer is less than 10% and many schools zilch! So my state taxes are funding over 60% of Chicago schools operating budget and none of my taxes goes towards my own school district!

Illinois is being looted. There’s no end in sight. Mark, I live in CA, and as bad as it is run, it cannot come close to Chicago and IL. Well, if you took Tech out of CA it would be just as bad, as Tech is the ONLY reason CA is not in the same boat as Chi-town and IL. But the bottom line is a recession will eventually arrive, it is two ++ years over due. And when it does arrive these pensions will be adjusted, =adjusted downward, and in a majorly downward. That is the punchline today! IMO… Read more »


Whenever I find myself second guessing the our family’s decision to move away
all I have to do is click on WirePoints Illinois on my favorites bar…

Del Wasso

All I can say is Build the wall !!!!!


Progressives sure do love to spend other people’s money.

Eventually, the “others” are going to get sick of this shit. And they’ll have to keep their OWN promises; with THEIR money.

Bob Raudys

Need to leave this place soon, before they build the Iron Curtain.

Phil McCrakken

Leftist douchebaggery at its finest.


This is pathetic. Is there any reason left to live in IL?


There’s plenty of reasons to live in IL. Unfortunately the people and the government make it unbearable. IL has some of the best, most productive farmland in the world and it doesn’t even need irrigation; we have lots of fresh water in lake michigan and our underground aquifers are plentiful and not all that far below ground. And plenty of rain too. We have lots of national and international businesses and good jobs; we even have coal and oil too! Our prairie land is flat and easy to build on and work with; our zone 5/6 means we can have… Read more »


Farmland will be non-feasible for planting at a certain inflection point of property tax rates. Farmland cannot be farmed if the costs to produce exceed the market prices of the crop. Farmland assessments have spiked higher annually in recent years and all indications point to trend continuation. ( Farmland is assessed by UofI derived productivity index). ( cash rent on NIl farmland is ~ $200/acre). (Property tax per acre here is ~$24/acre) Farmland cannot appeal assessment, nor can it affect property tax RATE it is obligated to pay. Farmland yields income of roughly: 1/3 inputs, 1/3 land rent, and 1/3… Read more »


Groundwater as a divertable asset has not gone unnoticed by the Political Industry in collar counties. BiG MONEY in groundwater. Heavy industry and power plants ( heavy users of groundwater, especially that sweet aquifer that requires least expensive treatment) seem to have allies in local governments who happen to own rural banks or run rural governments at the same time as running influential local law practices. Illinois law is ambiguous on these possible ethical conflicts. Illinois law enforcement recommends citizens file civil suits for their own protection. Contact ARDC at your own personal risk. It appears to me that Illinois… Read more »

Cass Andra

Groundwater is an apt metaphor for the entire pension crisis. Taxpayer funds are a finite resource. That aquifer is damn-near dry.


Yes, now consider that the water suckers who made our wells run dry and our land worth -ess may now purchase title to all our land at next to nothing ( and ironically, with leveraged taxpayer dollars ).

Want to bet whether the water-sucking forces which engendered the problem causing worthless land, and who now OWN all that worthless land, will now revert from their destructive water-sucking ways?

Cass Andra

I may be dim, but I find that you speak in riddles. The “owners” will either be the underwater home owners or the mortgagees who foreclosed or the tax authorities that foreclosed. In some cases those people will have been evicted and in other cases they’ll still be living at or using the now-worthless property. An eminent domain action could probably pick up the property very inexpensively and if a few major parcels could be created then there would be graft and kickbacks for all and sundry. And there could be rezoning, tax abatements etc.that would enable the rent-seeking sonsabitches… Read more »


No I think you get the picture, if Illinois policymakers create conditions which make land worthless, then are granted unique access to leveraged funding for purchasing said worthless assets, I predict that policymakers will then change conditions and lands which they now own, on which they can seek rent, will spike in value.


So I’m thinking, if this is happening, how to thwart it?
My strong feeling is that we should ignore methods which have failed in the past, but instead look at methods used by bad guys with great success.
We must set parameters restricting our strategies to being legal and ethical.
TIF-FOR-ALL fits the bill: create a ‘shadow Illinois ‘ on parallel tracks, using the very same mechanism which has enriched the political Industry., deflecting destructive effects back onto the toxic regions rather than continuing to absorb them.

Del Wasso

We also have lots of Trump voters like me.

joe blow

big freshwater lake with a pathway to the Atlantic and navigable rivers to the gulf or even the pacific ocean!

Wise Willy World

America’s growing elite: public servants and their socialist unions.


There is logic in blaming the victims. We fail to defend ourselves, we let it happen to us even while we see our own doom unfolding before our own eyes. I am tired of being a passive victim of Illinois . My self defense strategy is to quantify problem parameters, identify potential self-defense strategies (within the law), rule out those which are absurdly impotent (voting? Voting in Illinois has been as effective as Catholic birth control methods), and develop novel strategies which align with the strategies used successfully by the ‘ bad guys’. TIF jumps off the page. Bad guys… Read more »


The tax payer isn’t the victim. This is exactly what the voters voted for and exactly what they wanted. Look at all the ‘support teachers’ signs everywhere. They live in an alternate universe.


You’re 100% right on that one. I love it when the politicians, teacher’s and other interested parties come up with “well there are TIFs and there are TIFs” as if somehow ours are better than others that all come out the same at the end of the day. Yet amazingly voters believe these proponents and vote them right in. Funny how that works..


Not certain on that one Susan. TIFs take money from schools and all other units of local government. They should be eliminated, but that is controlled by Springfield…another dead end in the state of Madigastan.


It was nefariously clever of new state funding law to lockin previous school funding levels, in time to obviate expiring TIF EAV to come onto tax rolls and decrease State funding of wealthy areas (disguised as underfunded due to TIF). The answer of Illinois self-defense lies in TIF. ‘TIF-For-All’ takes areas which have been made to subsidize corruptly administered TIF and makes them “safe zones” for life and development. TIF-For-All is simply a policy of including every single parcel in TIF district, and rebating every annual incremental TIF dollar back to the property which paid it. Problems/solutions TIF traditional/TIF-For-All: 1.… Read more »

s and p 500

I checked some tweets under “Chicago Public Schools” . I came across one tweet that was so stupid it was breathtaking. Some teacher was asking, if CPS saved $88 million from the strike then why can’t that money be spent to put a librarian in every school. I sent her a tweet and screamed at her and said — because CPS has $12 billion unfunded pension liabilities and that debt has to be paid off first. I expect to get a reply about how pensions are pay-as-you-go or something.


What’s the reasoning behind 244 sick days? Why not 240?

Governor of Alderaan

I assume it’s because all CTU teachers combined couldn’t count higher than 244

Phil McCrakken

But somehow, in a year or two, under the treat of yet another strike, they’ll figure out a way to count to 414.


12 sick days a year ? 12 years max. Maybe 12+2(14) years is the lowest amount of time in for a retirement or post employment health care benefits of some sort at some level Chicago School system jobs. In the US government in Military service or civilian DoD or other GS jobs at times(early-outs/downsizing) you could take a retirement of some level of pay at 14 years and subtract accumulated sick and leave/vacation days to make it a few months less . So in the CTA maybe they have some clause similar with 12 years work +2yrs acc sick time… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

Wait, the state IS subsidizing CPS!? And that bill was passed by Rauner!? What the actual f…

I was not aware of this…you learn something depressing and aggravating everyday in Illinois. I guess moving to DuPage county was pretty stupid of me.


I’ll stop by when I’m on the East Coast.

Kane County Frank

This is highway robbery.


CPS logic: Teacher shortage? OK, retire early!