Pensions for government workers continue to drag on the Illinois economy, adding to the already out of control debt, of which our state can ill afford. It is an issue that needs to be addressed in the near term to get our state out of the red and support needed programs that are getting left behind due lack of money.
For years, government positions paid lower wages. Pensions were in place to make up for some of the lower salaries of government employees. The philosophy was “make less money now and you will be rewarded in your retirement with a hefty pension.” This worked for many years, until government wages increased and became competitive with private sector wages. Currently, the tax payers are left “holding the bill” to fund these pensions. And, in many cases government employees are also receiving social security benefits in addition to their pensions.
The private sector has eliminated most of its pensions as not to bankrupt the company. The reality is that no business can afford to pay for pensions. As a population, we are living much longer and the cost of funding these pensions is no longer feasible. The tax payers are taking the hit as fewer workers are paying into the system and supporting the pension pay outs.
Here lies the problem for the public sector. Our government can no longer afford to pay out these pensions for government jobs without going bankrupt. The federal government also struggles with the same issue and have no capacity to bail out the states. IRS executive, Lois Lerner, of the IRS infamy and Tea Party targeting, could be in line for a $50k a year pension. Though both the federal and local governments downplay the average pensions as being meager, the real numbers tell a much different story.
In Illinois, a member of the Teachers Retirement System who retired in 2012 after 30-plus years of service could expect to receive an initial average pension of $72,693. After just 10 years of cost of living adjustments the pension would be worth more than what the person was making in salary at retirement
Based on the 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports and SURS data compiled through the Freedom of Information Act, the average pension for Illinois state workers with 30 years of service would be $42,168. This number would be $78, 704 for legislators and $145,992 for judges!
Confirmed by the pension’s systems own records, the Illinois government workers retiring today after spending most or all of their careers in government will benefit from exceedingly generous pensions. It is fact that many choose to ignore, yet pension reform is necessary to insure the future of our government and the people it serves.
What are you thoughts on this complicated issue?