Breaking news: Illinois pols vote to eliminate their pensions! No more full time benefits for a part time job.
Perhaps we should put that in bold type.
We’re not talking about the Springfield crowd. We’re talking about the Oak Lawn village board, which recently did away with pension benefits for the mayor and the six trustees. (Yes, they were eligible).
The pensions didn’t cost village taxpayers much, considering trustees earn less than $10,000 a year. But that’s not the point. To their credit, the leaders of Oak Lawn recognized that they didn’t need or deserve a pension and they did something about it.
“It’s ridiculous that part-time politicians have that benefit. Ridiculous,” newly elected Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury said. “In my opinion, that’s how we got in trouble. Politicians got perks and regular people can’t pay for it.”
Local government workers belong to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, one of the better-funded pension systems in the state. Unlike state government, local governments are required to make full payments into the fund each year. IMRF is separate from the state pension plans that are drastically underfunded and dragging down the state’s credit rating.
Subsidizing the retirements of part-time politicians — any part-time public employees — shouldn’t be taxpayers’ responsibility. Politicians and part-time workers in townships, counties and school districts, as well as political appointees serving on public transit and planning boards, should not be eligible for a public pension.
A bill eliminating pensions for future board members at Metra, Pace Suburban Bus Service, the Regional Transportation Authority and the Chicago Transit Authority awaits a signature from Gov. Pat Quinn.
Let’s go. Grab your pen, governor. While you’re at it, urge lawmakers to pass a bill eliminating the pensions for their part-time jobs.
We know, we know. Many lawmakers say they work full time representing their districts. But their schedule simply doesn’t allow for a tailored definition. Lawmakers are in session only a few months of the year with an acutely relaxed summer and fall schedule. And by acute, we mean really indulgent.
For that modest work, they are rewarded with comfortable retirements. And by comfortable, we mean extravagant.
As the Tribune reported last year, several former legislators pull down more than $100,000 a year in state pensions. The list is led by former state Sen. Art Berman, who gets more than $200,000 a year. Some of them bumped up their pension payouts by taking high-paying government jobs for a brief time after leaving the legislature. More…