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Disgust With Public Pensions

Guest Commentary
Ron Rybolt – Christian County, IL

Just three short weeks ago, I was dismayed to read an article in USAToday about how state lawmakers within Illinois and throughout the nation pump up their pensions (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-11/1A-state-lawmakers-pump-pensions/50522036/1 ): In Illinois, lawmakers who move to lucrative state jobs can apply the higher salary to their legislative pension, which pays richer benefits than pensions for state workers.

In July, Democratic former House member Gary Hannig began collecting a $123,057 legislative pension, even though his legislative salary was $86,902 when he left office in 2009. His pension, however, is based on his $150,228 salary as state Transportation director after leaving the Legislature.

“It’s legal corruption,” says Bill Zettler of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America. At least 42 of 139 Illinois legislators retiring since 2000 have boosted their legislative pensions by taking higher-paying government jobs, USA TODAY found. This type of “legalized corruption” where politicians use special privileges to receive a nearly doubled pension after a short stint as a high-paid director is OUTRAGEOUS (and should be to every taxpayer and rank-and-file taxpayer funded employee).

Using “loopholes” to receive a yearly pension greater than any yearly salary of a 30+ year legislative career (although it is supposed to be a part-time position) should be disgusting to the every Illinois taxpayer regardless of their respective political party.

BUT – learning this past week that non-government workers such as union leaders use similar “loopholes” to further drain the state pensions systems is even more disheartening (http://forthegoodofillinois.org/blog/corruption/2011/10/stop-insider-pension-abuse-sb2499-press-conference-video/ ).

I agree that government pensions should only go to government workers. Career politicians and non-government employees abuses to the pension systems needs to be corrected immediately… with retroactive reimbursement to the pension funds from each respective beneficiary.

Remember – there are many states that do not even offer politicians a pension plan (let alone non-government employees).

Why does Illinois?


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