Poor leadership cause of state pension mess

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

The drastic cuts pensions offered in Senate Bill 1, as amended by Speaker Michael Madigan, are overly harsh and mean spirited. The lack of funding by the state of Illinois is largely due to Mr. Madigan’s poor leadership.

Now current retirees are being punished with no recourse. People in their 70s and 80s are not exactly prime candidates to get jobs. Due to Windfall Elimination Provision, anyone who did earn Social Security is limited to about 40 percent of the amount they would have earned because of having a state pension.

One positive thing it does do is prevent non-state workers from getting a state pension. This includes union officers, Special Olympics staff, and staff of such groups as the Illinois School Principals Association, among others.

It would be better to look at neighboring states to see how they deal with pensions and insurance. For example, Indiana requires state workers to pay part of their health insurance. If workers smoke or use other tobacco products, they pay an additional $100 a month. Support is given to those who try to quit.

If they have regular physicals and submit the test/weight/height results to a outside group designated by the state (the employer will not have access to the worker’s health information), with medical advice to assist with issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, etc., they pay less in health insurance.  

In Indiana and Wisconsin, employees pay in more for their pension/Social Security, while the states pay in their share every year. That’s every year – unlike Illinois, which has paid in 100 percent of its share only once since Gov. Adlai Stevenson’s tenure in the 1940s. Is there any reason we’re in a mess?

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