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The Cost of State Pensions

Credit WVIK News
Jim Tobin, speaking in Rock Island, on Oct. 30.

Illinois is going bankrupt thanks to its generous pension system for state government retirees. That's from the 12th annual study of state pensions by Taxpayers United of America.

Taxpayers President Jim Tobin says the way the system is set up now state employees and teachers can retire at a relatively young age, and earn large pensions, paid for by taxpayers.

"Most people don't know today in the state of Illinois that over 19,000 retirees, in the 6 state pension funds, get annual pensions over 100,000 dollars a year. And those pensions double after 24 years because they increase 3 per cent on a compounded basis every year."

And that includes 600 retirees living in Rock Island County. One example is the former Moline School Superintendent, Cal Lee, who retired at the age of 58 and is paid 216,000 dollars a year.

"It's just unreasonable to allow people to retire in their 50's and early 60's and expect taxpayers to foot the bill."

And the way local governments and school districts pay for these generous pensions is by raising property taxes.

Tobin's solutions include lowering the benefits for new hires, and allowing local taxing bodies to file for bankruptcy so they can re-negotiate their debts, including their pension liability.

In contrast, he says the average Social Security pension in Rock Island County is about 17,000 dollars a year, paid for by the person and their employer, and not accessible until the age of 67 or higher.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.