Illinois and its public employee pension plans owe $80 Billion in unfunded pension liabilities and another $13 Billion in outstanding pension debt - not to mention another $40 Billion in unfunded retiree health care liability. Total: over $130 BILLION. And growing...
With enough years of service, Illinois State workers can retire at age 55 with full pensions. The value of these pensions over individuals' lifetimes can be calculated using State pension fund data and standard actuarial assumptions.
During the past three years, 175 Illinois workers have retired from State employment at age 55 after full careers (30 years or more of service). The average value of their pensions is approximately $1 Million. (See IllinoisisBroke.com for details.) Full-career State retirees also have free health insurance paid for 100% by the State (subject to the usual deductibles). At age 55, that free health benefit is worth an additional $400,000.
Illinois schoolteachers and administrators (outside of Chicago - which has its own pension plan) can retire at age 60. During the past three years, 266 Illinois school teachers and administrators have retired at age 60 after full careers (35 years or more of service). The average value of their pensions is approximately $1.4 Million. (See IllinoisisBroke.com for details.)
Illinois' pension funds must honor the obligations they already have to retirees, and honor rights already accrued by current employees for service up to the present. But Illinois cannot afford to continue - in the future - to run up these obligations. Without reform and adequate funding, the pension funds will run out of money. That would be terrible for retirees, for current workers and for the State as a whole.
We have an election on November 2, 2010. Ask your candidate: Do you support pension reform? Or just a tax increase?