Member Advocacy and Education

CTPF is governed by Illinois law. The fund works to actively promote legislation that benefits members. Pensions provide secure and stable retirements for teachers, administrators, and public school personnel, yet their existence has come under attack. CTPF encourages all members to read and understand the facts about pensions and to share this information with friends, colleagues, and Illinois legislators. Advocating for your constitutionally guaranteed pension benefits is an important step in protecting your pension.

CTPF Education and Advocacy Topics

Current News

An Open Letter to Illinois Legislators from Jay C. Rehak, president of the CTPF Board of Trustees

Illinois law established the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund on July 1, 1895, and changes to our system or governance have always been subject to the legislature. At times this can be a cumbersome process, as administrative issues that would be routine in many businesses, must be modified by legislative act.

Yet, the process of involving the Illinois legislature also ensures that Illinois citizens have a voice in the governance of our pension system.

That is why the 63,000 members of the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, the Chicago Teachers' Union, the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago, and the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, have called on the Illinois Senate to vote on House Bill 3695.

This bill does not raise taxes, but restores a stable stream of revenue to our fund, which was lost in 1995, when the legislature allowed our pension tax levy to be redirected into the CPS operating budget.

For more than 20 years the fund suffered from underfunding through pension "holidays" and reduced contributions. A fund cannot survive on half-kept promises; in recent years, we have been forced to sell assets to pay benefits. Without a guaranteed revenue source we will surely see the mistakes of the past repeated.

Teachers have little recourse but to appeal to the legislators.

And today we do just that.

We respectfully ask the Illinois Senate and President Cullerton to give a fair hearing to House Bill 3695. This legislation passed out of the Illinois House with bi-partisan support on a vote of 102 to 9, then passed unanimously out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee. It now waits to be called for a floor vote.

As our elected representatives you speak for your constituents. Give us our voice. It's time to call the roll on House Bill 3695.

Teachers are watching and listening.

Act Now

YOU can help move this bill forward by doing two things:

  1. Contact President Cullerton and ask him to call the bill.
    Call or e-mail Illinois Senate President Cullerton and respectfully ask that he call HB3695 for a vote. This important legislation does not increase taxes and reinstates a guaranteed funding source for the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund.

    Contact Information:
  2. Contact your Illinois Senator to ask him/her to vote yes on House Bill 3695 when the bill is called.
    Look up your State Senator's contact information and send an e-mail directly from the Legislative Action Center. Click here for the Legislative Action Center.

Additional Information about HB3695

Click here to read a fact sheet about this legislation.

House Bill 3695 Passes out of Senate Executive Committee with Unanimous Vote

Bill may soon be called for full vote in Senate

May 6, 2015: House Bill 3695 continues to progress through the Illinois legislature, passing out of the Senate Executive Committee on a unanimous vote on Wednesday, May, 6, 2015. The legislation reinstates the pension tax levy diverted from CTPF in 1995. The bill will be called for a floor vote in the Illinois Senate in the near future.

The bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) with Co-Sponsors Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), Sen. Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago), Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago), Sen. Napoleon Harris, III, (D-Harvey), Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Sen. Martin A. Sandoval (D-Cicero), Sen. Heather A. Steans (D-Chicago), Sen. Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago), and Sen. Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago).

In 1995, legislation diverted the CTPF tax levy into the CPS operating budget, giving CPS administrators control over pension contributions. CPS then deferred their contributions from 1996 to 2005. As a result, CTPF lost $2 billion in revenue. CPS again deferred contributions from 2010 to 2013 and cost the fund another $1.2 billion. In total, CTPF has foregone more than $3.2 billion in funding.

The proposal establishes a specific tax levy for contributions to CTPF beginning in Fiscal Year 2016. The levy would generate approximately $160 to $180 million in 2016. The CPS levy would be reduced from 3.07% to 2.81% and the 0.26% of tax levied each year will be deposited directly with CTPF.

If this bill becomes law, in conjunction with current laws that require actuarial funding, it would be a significant step toward achieving stable funding for CTPF. A guaranteed revenue source will improve the financial health of the pension plan and secure the stable and long-promised retirements for Chicago’s 27,700 retired CPS educators.

This legislation, took a major step on April 14, 2015, when it passed out of the Illinois House with bi-partisan support on a vote of 102 to 9. The bill was written and sponsored by State Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr., (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) with Chief Co-Sponsor Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), received bi-partisan support from several additional Co-Sponsors including Rep. David Harris (R-Mount Prospect), Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights), Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), Rep. Christian L. Mitchell (D-Chicago), Rep. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago), Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago), and Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago).

Support
The Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago (RTAC), and the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association support this bill.

Click here to read a fact sheet about this legislation.

Click here to visit the legislative action center to send an e-mail in support of this legislation.

House Bill 3695 Passes Illinois House

House Bill 3695 cleared a major hurdle on April 14, 2015, when it passed out of the Illinois House on a vote of 102 to 9. The legislation reinstates the pension tax levy diverted from CTPF in 1995.

The bill will now be considered in the Illinois Senate where it is being sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

"We are pleased to see this bill favorably received by the Illinois House and look forward to its favorable consideration in the Senate," said Charles A. Burbridge, CTPF executive director.

Click here to see the complete press release.

Next Steps
The bill will now move to the Illinois Senate. Please reach out and ask your State Senator to support HB 3695.

Click here to view a fact sheet about this bill.

If you do not know who your state senator is, click here.

If your State Representative supported this legislation, please consider writing a note of thanks. Click here to see how your legislator voted.

Click here to read the bill summary on the Illinois General Assembly Web site.

March 27, 2015: Jay C. Rehak, president, Board of Trustees, Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, stresses pension funding in letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune

President Rehak published a letter to the editor in the March 27, 2015, Chicago Tribune stressing the importance of fully funding CTPF pensions. Click here to read the letter.

CTPF Releases Economic Impact Statement

CHICAGO – March 4, 2015 – The Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund (CTPF) today announced the release of its 2014 Economic Impact Survey. CTPF made $1.2 billion in direct payments to beneficiaries living in Illinois in 2014. Those payments had a $1.7 billion impact on the Illinois economy supporting 12,628 jobs in the state.

"The Buck Stays Here: Understanding the Economic Impact of CTPF Benefit Payments on the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago" is produced annually and details the Fund's impact on the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, and each Illinois legislative district.

"This report is a snapshot into just how important the Fund is to not just the city of Chicago, but the entire state," said Jay C. Rehak, CTPF President of the Board of Trustees. "Our members live in every single legislative district in Illinois and they eat at local diners, shop at local retailers, and ultimately, put their hard-earned retirement dollars back into the state's economy."

Click here to read the full press release.
Click here to read the full report.
Economic Impact: Individual Sheets for Senators
Economic Impact: Individual Sheets for Illinois House of Representatives Members

Recent CTPF Press Release Library

For an archive of CTPF press releases, please click here.

CTPF's 2015 Legislative Agenda

The CTPF Board of Trustees has approved the following legislative priorities for 2015. CTPF thanks the senators and representatives who have sponsored and support these bills.

CTPF's Role

The legislature determines the laws and rules that govern our fund. The CTPF Board of Trustees administers the law and protects the Fund's finances to ensure retirement security for all members.

CTPF Educational and Training Opportunities

CTPF Spring Ambassador Training
This spring, CTPF offered a Webinar and seven well attended Pension Fund Ambassador training sessions held at schools throughout the city. The sessions focused on the economic impact of pensions and discussed the recently released 2015 Economic Impact statement, The Buck Stays Here.

In case you missed the original broadcast, you can click the link below to view the recording.

Click here to view the recorded webinar.

CTPF Webinar Library

If you've missed our webinars, you can watch recorded versions of the presentations by clicking on the links below. Please Note: The webinars are hosted by GoToMeeting. If you are using Internet Explorer 11, you will need to download the Go To Meeting Codec, available at this link.

End of Fiscal Year Review, recorded on June 11, 2014
CTPF Board of Trustees President and Interim Director Jay C. Rehak and CTPF Lobbyist Steve Zahn for a summary of the fund at the end of our fiscal year, and a review of important legislation and legislative events from 2014.

Click here to view the recording.

An Introduction to Pension Fund Governance offered May 13, 2014
Do you know the Fundamentals about your pension fund? What role the Board of Trustees have in governing CTPF? Why CTPF elections are important? How decisions made in the State of Illinois legislature can impact your pension? View our recorded webinar to learn more about one of your most important assets – your retirement pension.

Click here to view the recorded the webinar.

2014 Legislative Agenda, offered February 27, 2014
CTPF Communications Director Frances Radencic and Communications Specialist Jackie Umbles offer information about the fund and its legislative priorities for 2014.

Click here to view the recorded webinar.

Writing a Letter to the Editor, offered January 22, 2014
Speaking out to share your story is an important way to protect your pension. CTPF Communications Specialist Jackie Umbles will walk you through the process of writing a letter to your local newspaper editor. Click here to view the recorded webinar: http://goo.gl/Qmw7Kp

If you would like to view the slide presentation from the webinar in PDF format (without narration), please click here.

State Pension "Reform" Update Webinar, offered December 3, 2013

Kevin B. Huber, CTPF Executive Director, offers an overview of pension reform legislation that passed for State pension systems last December. Click here to view the webinar. Please Note: The webinar is in Windows Media format, which should be supported by all Windows PCs. If you are using a Mac, you'll need to install Windows Media for QuickTime, which you can find here on Microsoft's Web site. Windows Media is not supported on devices such as the iPad or iPhone.

Click here for a summary of the Questions and Answers from the Webinar.

CTPF Legislative Action Center

Need help finding your local representatives?

CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER

The Legislative Action Center provides an important resource for CTPF members. When you visit the action center you can look up your elected representatives by typing in your zip code, send an email to your legislators, and find out more about CTPF legislative efforts. If you register at the Legislative Action Center, you will automatically be enrolled in our new CTPF Pension Fund Ambassador program.

Pension Fund Ambassador Program
We've developed the CTPF Pension Fund Ambassador program to encourage our members to educate lawmakers and decision makers about the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, its legislative priorities, and our members. We want legislators to understand the people behind the pensions, and to hear the facts about the fund straight from our members. Click here for more information about the ambassador program.

Ready to advocate for your pension? Click here for more Resources for Members.

Join today
You can register for the ambassador program by clicking here.

Member Education and Advocacy Documents

CTPF has several documents which members can use to educate themselves and their legislators about pensions and their importance to Chicago's teachers, principals, and administrators.

Education Documents

These documents are designed to educate CTPF members about the fund's current financial situation and legislative priorities.

  1. CTPF Member Education - This document offers basic facts and information about CTPF along with an overview of CTPF legislative priorities.
  2. Mistakes of the Past - This document reviews CTPF funding history and explains why we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past (full color).

Advocacy Documents

These documents are designed to be shared with legislators and policy makers. They were developed with the cooperation of the Chicago Teachers' Union, the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago, and the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

Pensions Matter: Understanding the Economic Impact of CTPF Pensions

CTPF educators make an immeasurable impact on children: educating, nurturing, and helping them grow into productive citizens and future leaders. Yet an educator's impact extends far beyond the classroom - active and retired educators are also consumers, taxpayers, and voters - who live and work in Chicago and surrounding communities.

Our report, The Buck Stays Here, examines the impact that CTPF educators have outside the classroom, and the benefits pensions offer the economy of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Cover Image for our Economic Impact Document, with several colorful stick figures holding up signs bearing a dollar sign
Click the image above to download The Buck Stays Here: Understanding the Economic Impact of CTPF Benefit Payments on the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.

Pensions Matter - Economic Impact by Legislators

CTPF has broken down the impact that pensions have on our economy by legislative district in Illinois. Make your own impact on legislators by printing out and personalizing these documents for your local lawmakers. Pensions Matter - tell your legislators.

Economic Impact: Individual Sheets for Senators

Economic Impact: Individual Sheets for Illinois House of Representatives Members

Other Advocacy Documents

  1. Leave Behind Information for Legislators - This document summarizes facts about CTPF and its legislative priorities and has space where you can write in your own contact information. Take this with you and leave it behind when you meet with a legislator.
  2. Fair Funding Flyer - This publication illustrates the need for fair funding for CTPF pensions. It illustrates the fact that the State of Illinois gives CTPf less than a penny for every dollar it pays in downstate teachers' pensions. This flyer is designed to be shared with a legislator or policy maker and includes a space to write in your name and contact information.
  3. Sample Text for a Letter - If you plan to write or E-mail your lawmakers, you can download this text and use it as a template to help you get started. Click here to download a text file.

Ways to Reach Your Legislator

CTPF encourages all members to get to know their legislators personally. If you can't meet personally with your representatives, there are several ways to share your views:

Tips for Meeting with Your Elected Representatives

Your legislators welcome feedback from their constituents and a meeting is a great way to share your thoughts and ideas. To make the most out of your meeting, consider these tips:

1. Educate yourself first.
Before you meet with an elected official, make sure you educate yourself on CTPF priorities. You can find links above to documents with background information about CTPF.

2. Schedule an appointment with the right person.
Legislators are interested in the views of their constituents so make sure you meet with the right person. Locate your legislator by clicking here. Many legislators offer walk-in or office hours when they are available. If you can't meet in person, try and call your legislator or send a fax summarizing your views.

3. Be prepared.
You wouldn't start your day in the classroom without a plan, so use the same approach to your legislative meeting. Make sure you're on time and have an outline of what you would like to share. Bring your CTPF materials with you and think of the meeting as a chance to educate your legislator. Be respectful of his or her time and perspective. This is a chance to make your point and to share information; the experience should be cordial, not confrontational.

If you discuss specific legislation, make sure you advocate for your position and ask for a yes or no on the bill in discussion. You want to make sure your legislator understands your position.

When the meeting ends, thank the legislator for his or her time and make sure you leave behind your CTPF flyer with your contact information.

Other Legislation

PA 98-0599 (Senate Bill 1) Ruled Unconstitutional

November 21, 2014, a Sangamon County Circuit Court judge ruled that Public Act 98-0599 is unconstitutional.

The legislation, signed December 5, 2013, changed the Illinois Pension Code for four of the five state pension systems: Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), State Employees Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS). CTPF was not impacted by the law.

The law eliminated the State systems' unfunded liability by 2045, primarily by reducing benefits for retired and active members. The law was scheduled to go into effect on June 1, 2014, but implementation was delayed by the court case.

The Attorney General has announced that she will immediately appeal the Circuit Court's ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Click here for a summary of the provisions of PA-98-0599.

Governor Quinn Signs SB1922

June 9, 2014, Governor Quinn signed SB 1922, which changes pension law for Chicago's Municipal Employees and Laborers. The bill passes both the Illinois House and Senate on April 8, 2014. The new law, PA 98-0641, does NOT currently impact CTPF.

SB 1922 includes benefit changes for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, including a cut in COLA benefits, and increases in employee and employer contributions, and establishes an actuarially determined funding schedule for both funds.

Click here to read a summary of the law.
Click here to read the full text of the law.
Click here to read the Senate vote.
Click here to read the House vote.

Governor Quinn Signs New Pension Law for State System Public Act 98-0599 (Senate Bill 1)

A new comprehensive plan to overhaul the Illinois Pension Code for four state pension systems was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on December 5, 2013. The Illinois House and Illinois Senate passed pension reform legislation (Senate Bill 1) for four of the five state systems: Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), State Employees Retirement System (SERS), State Universities Retirement System (SURS), and the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) on December 3, 2013. This legislation does NOT currently impact CTPF.

The law eliminates the State systems' unfunded liability by 2045, primarily by reducing benefits for retired and active members.

The law was scheduled to go into effect on June 1, 2014, but a temporary restraining order has temporarily delayed the implementation of the law.

Click here for a summary of the Bill provisions.

Click here for a summary of the vote in the Illinois House

Click here for a summary of the vote in the Illinois Senate

Click here to view the complete text of the Bill

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Last Modified 04 13 2011