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Unintended Consequences of Pension Reform

Western Illinois University

Illinois’ pension reform has pushed hundreds of state employees into early retirement. It’s also canceling an annual celebration in Macomb.

The Juneteenth celebration has been organized every year by Belinda Carr she is the director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Centerat Western Illinois University.

Carr and some 60 others at Western announced they would be retiring next month to avoid reductions in retirement benefits. That was before a court delayed the implementation of pension reform.  

Western’s Associate Vice President for Student Services Earl Bracey said a new director for the cultural center has not yet been hired. And there’s no one else available to organize the event.

“It is our hope that her replacement will be able to continue this tradition and that what we hope will be a one year hiatus will be soon forgotten," Bracey said.

The event is held the third Saturday of June. Bracey said it was originally created to bring the university and Macomb community together to enjoy local parks.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.