December 24, 2012 – Illinois’ $96 billion pension dilemma is bad enough in its own right, but it also hides a huge quandary: What to do about the pension obligations for suburban and Downstate teachers? For people outside Chicago, it’s an issue that threatens to literally hit home when a future property tax bill lands in the mail. As state lawmakers gingerly take up pension reform, they walk head-on into the teacher issue. It’s just one part of the state’s $96 billion pension deficit, but it’s politically noxious. Historically, taxpayers statewide have picked up all but a sliver of the pension costs for members of the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois. They work Downstate and in the suburbs.