Northwest Herald

Commentary: Will pension reform turn into anti-reform?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is it possible that the conference committee working behind closed doors to “fix” Illinois’ failing public pension systems actually could make matters worse?
In Illinois, anything’s possible, I suppose. Even this.
First, let’s review:
Illinois’ five statewide pension systems are underfunded by $100 billion. That amount increases by millions each day that lawmakers don’t pass meaningful reform.
There is no cap on current retirees’ pensions. Thousands of retirees across Illinois receive six-figure annual pensions for no longer working. Hundreds receive pensions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. More retirees with excessive pensions are added to the rolls each year.
Automatic, 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increases that public pensioners receive each year means that those annual pensions continue to grow astronomically every year.
Because Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly repeatedly have failed to reach a solution, they punted responsibility for pension reform to a conference committee made up of six Democratic and four Republican lawmakers.