Harris School of Public Policy announces Policy Innovation Challenge's winning student-led pension proposal

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The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy this week announced the winner of the inaugural Harris Policy Innovation Challenge, a competition which tasked students to devise innovative solutions to Chicago’s largest financial problem: $35 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, a shortfall that ranks among the largest in the nation.

The winning team—which received an award of $10,000 and was chosen at a live pitch event on April 3 —was made up of graduate students Syed Ahmad, James Karsten, Liam Gluck, Greg Rudd, and Anthony Beaupre, and they were mentored by Jack Brofman, executive director for global treasury operations at UChicago. The team’s proposal to address Chicago’s pension crisis included:

  • Deregulating marijuana licensing to expand the number of dispensaries and resulting tax revenue;
  • Updating the process for vacant lot sales to increase transactions and taxes;
  • Increasing police and firefighter employee contributions to 11.5%; and
  • Adding a 75-cent toll to DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

At the event, three finalist teams presented their proposals to a panel of finance and civic leaders, who chose the winner based on the novelty, efficacy, and political feasibility of their solutions. The judges were David Wells, the former CFO and VP of Financial Planning and Analysis at Netflix; Alexandra Holt, Executive VP for Finance and Administration at the Art Institute of Chicago; Andrea Sáenz, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust; Dominic Garcia, the Chief Pension Investment Strategist at CBRE Investment Management; and Abel Ochoa, the Executive Director of College Readiness at UChicago.

Read the complete story here on The Harris School of Public Policy website.

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