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TRS, the Illinois pension for teachers outside of Chicago, reported today that it generated a positive 12.6 percent rate of return, net of fees, during fiscal year 2017 (which ended on June 30) – a return that exceeded the System’s custom investment benchmark of 11.4 percent. TRS is the state’s biggest pension and accounts for roughly 60% of the state’s unfunded pension liability.

That’s good news, but the problem is that TRS, like most Illinois pensions, just doesn’t have the assets on which good returns will return it to health. It’s funded ratio is just 39.8% according to the most recently published actuarial report, which is for the 2016 year that ended June 30, 2016. We’ll have to wait to see the full impact when the actuarial report for the most recent year comes out later this year.

On that subject, however, today’s press release says this: “While the System’s funded status improved modestly during FY 2017 from 39.8 percent to 40.2 percent, the unfunded liability increased. At the end of the fiscal year the unfunded liability was $73.4 billion, compared to $71.4 billion at the end of FY 2016.” I don’t know where those 2017 numbers come from because I see nothing yet for that year published on the TRS site.

We’ll also have to wait to see a full analysis of the impact of the new Tier 3 reforms passed into law in July.

Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

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